Environmental science & technology

Atmospheric degradation of perfluoro-2-methyl-3-pentanone: photolysis, hydrolysis and hydration.

PMID 21466195


Perfluorinated carboxylic acids are widely distributed in the environment, including remote regions, but their sources are not well understood. Perfluoropropionic acid (PFPrA, CF(3)CF(2)C(O)OH) has been observed in rainwater but the observed amounts can not be explained by currently known degradation pathways. Smog chamber studies were performed to assess the potential of photolysis of perfluoro-2-methyl-3-pentanone (PFMP, CF(3)CF(2)C(O)CF(CF(3))(2)), a commonly used fire-fighting fluid, to contribute to the observed PFPrA loadings. The photolysis of PFMP gives CF(3)CF(2)C·(O) and ·CF(CF(3))(2) radicals. A small (0.6%) but discernible yield of PFPrA was observed in smog chamber experiments by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry offline chamber samples. The Tropospheric Ultraviolet-Visible (TUV) model was used to estimate an atmospheric lifetime of PFMP with respect to photolysis of 4-14 days depending on latitude and time of year. PFMP can undergo hydrolysis to produce PFPrA and CF(3)CFHCF(3) (HFC-227ea) in a manner analogous to the Haloform reaction. The rate of hydrolysis was measured using (19)F NMR at two different pHs and was too slow to be of importance in the atmosphere. Hydration of PFMP to give a geminal diol was investigated computationally using density functional theory. It was determined that hydration is not an important environmental fate of PFMP. The atmospheric fate of PFMP seems to be direct photolysis which, under low NO(x) conditions, gives PFPrA in a small yield. PFMP degradation contributes to, but does not appear to be the major source of, PFPrA observed in rainwater.

Related Materials