Environmental science & technology

Aerobic biotransformation of 14C-labeled 8-2 telomer B alcohol by activated sludge from a domestic sewage treatment plant.

PMID 15707053


This study investigated the biodegradation potential of 3-(14)C,1H,1H,2H,2H-perfluorodecanol [CF3(CF2)6(14)CF2CH2CH2OH, 14C-labeled 8-2 telomer B alcohol or 14C-labeled 8-2 TBA] by diluted activated sludge from a domestic wastewater treatment plant under aerobic conditions. After sample extraction with acetonitrile, biotransformation products were separated and quantified by LC/ARC (on-line liquid chromatography/accurate radioisotope counting) with a limit of quantification about 0.5% of the 14C counts applied to the test systems. Identification of biotransformation products was performed by quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Three transformation products have been identified: CF3(CF2)6(14)CF2CH2COOH (8-2 saturated acid); CF3(CF2)6(14)CF=CHCOOH (8-2 unsaturated acid); and CF3(CF2)6(14)COOH (perfluorooctanoic acid, PFOA), representing 27, 6.0, and 2.1% of the initial 14C mass (14C counts applied) after 28 days, respectively. A transformation product, not yet reported in the literature, has also been observed and tentatively identified as CF3(CF2)6(14)CH2CH2COOH (2H,2H,3H,3H-perfluorodecanoic acid); it accounted for 2.3% of the mass balance after 28 days. The 2H,2H,3H,3H-perfluorodecanoic acid is likely a substrate for beta-oxidation, which represents one of the possible pathways for 8-2 telomer B alcohol degradation. The 8-2 saturated acid and 8-2 unsaturated acid cannot be directly used as substrates for beta-oxidation due to the proton deficiency in their beta-carbon (C3 carbon) and their further catabolism may be catalyzed by some other still unknown mechanisms. The 2H,2H,3H,3H-perfluorodecanoic acid may originate either from the major transformation product CF3(CF2)6(14)CF2CH2COOH or from other unidentified transformation products via multiple steps. Approximately 57% of the starting material remained unchanged after 28 days, likely due to its strong adsorption to the PTFE (poly(tetrafluoroethylene)) septa of the test vessels. No CF3(CF2)6(14)CF2COOH (perfluorononanoic acid) was observed, indicating that alpha-oxidation of CF3(CF2)6(14)CF2CH2COOH did not occur under the study conditions. Several 14C-labeled transformation products that have not yet been identified (each less than 1% of the mass balance) were also observed and together accounted for 7% of the total 14C mass balance after 28 days. It is not clear whether these unidentified transformation products were resulting from further metabolism of 8-2 saturated acid or 8-2 unsaturated acid. The results suggest that perfluorinated acid metabolites such as perfluorooctanoic acid account for only a very small portion of the transformation products observed. Also, the observed volatility and bioavailability of 14C-labeled 8-2 TBA for microbial degradation was markedly decreased as a result of the presence of a strongly adsorbing matrix such as PTFE in the experimental systems. It is apparent that the biological fate of 8-2 telomer B alcohol is determined by multiple degradation pathways, with neither beta-oxidation nor any other enzyme-catalyzed reactions as a single dominant (principal) mechanism under the study conditions.

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1H,1H,2H,2H-Perfluoro-1-decanol, 97%