PFCs in the Antarctic

“Magical.”

If I had to use a single word to describe aquariums, it would be “magical.” Whether you’re a child or a child at heart (like me!), it is easy to get lost with the turtles, sea lions, eels, sharks and any other aquatic life you can imagine. The exhibits closely mimic the sights, sounds and smells of each aquatic environment – so closely, that you might think you’re out in the ocean or in the middle of the Antarctic.

My personal favorite is the penguin exhibit. Their comical walk and interactions with each other, in contrast to their graceful underwater movements, capture my full attention. Unfortunately, penguins in the natural world are facing crises as plastics and perfluorinated compounds become more prevalent in the environment.

A recent Greenpeace report indicates that per- and polyfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) have reached the Antarctic region. Snow and water samples collected from several locations in Antarctica were analyzed and contained measureable concentrations of these perfluorinated compounds. The source of this environmental contamination is likely due to the prevalence of microplastics in our rivers, lakes and oceans which attract and carry various contaminants. Due to their stability, PFCs and PFAS compounds are highly resistant to degradation, which allows them to accumulate in the environment.

Exposure to perfluorinated compounds is known for negatively impacting the developmental, immune, metabolic and endocrine health of consumers and highlights the importance of proper water treatment and testing. The U.S. EPA requires careful extraction and quantification of these compounds to ensure proper monitoring. The requirements for measuring these compounds are outlined in EPA Method 537 and dictate that solid phase extraction (SPE) must be used for preparing samples for subsequent analysis by LC/MS/MS.

For more information on this method, along with an application note to demonstrate the effectiveness of SPE for extracting perfluorinated compounds, visit our water analysis page.

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