Deriving environmental quality standards for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and related short chain perfluorinated alkyl acids

Sara Valsecchi, Daniela Conti, Riccardo Crebelli, Stefano Polesello, Marianna Rusconi, Michela Mazzoni, Elisabetta Preziosi, Mario Carere, Luca Lucentini, Emanuele Ferretti, Stefania Balzamo, Maria Gabriella Simeone, Fiorella Aste

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The evidence that in Northern Italy significant sources of perfluoroalkylacids (PFAA) are present induced the Italian government to establish a Working Group on Environmental Quality Standard (EQS) for PFAA in order to include some of them in the list of national specific pollutants for surface water monitoring according to the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC). The list of substances included perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and related short chain PFAA such as perfluorobutanoate (PFBA), perfluoropentanoate (PFPeA), perfluorohexanoate (PFHxA) and perfluorobutanesulfonate (PFBS), which is a substitute of perfluorooctanesulfonate. For each of them a dossier collects available data on regulation, physico-chemical properties, emission and sources, occurrence, acute and chronic toxicity on aquatic species and mammals, including humans. Quality standards (QS) were derived for the different protection objectives (pelagic and benthic communities, predators by secondary poisoning, human health via consumption of fishery products and water) according to the European guideline. The lowest QS is finally chosen as the relevant EQS. For PFOA a QS for biota was derived for protection from secondary poisoning and the corresponding QS for water was back-calculated, obtaining a freshwater EQS of 0.1 μg L−1. For PFBA, PFPeA, PFHxA and PFBS threshold limits proposed for drinking waters were adopted as EQS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-98
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - Feb 5 2017


  • Environmental quality standard
  • Hazard/risk assessment
  • Perfluorinated compounds
  • PFOA
  • Short chain perfluoroalkyl acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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