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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Animal Metabolism-Agricultural Chemicals Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #299470

Title: Distribution and excretion of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in beef cattle (Bos taurus)

item Lupton, Sara
item HUWE, JANICE - Retired ARS Employee
item Smith, David
item DEARFIELD, KERRY - Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)
item JOHNSTON, JOHN - Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/20/2014
Publication Date: 2/5/2014
Publication URL:
Citation: Lupton, S.J., Huwe, J.K., Smith, D.J., Dearfield, K.L., Johnston, J.J. 2014. Distribution and excretion of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in beef cattle (Bos taurus). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 62(5):1167-1173.

Interpretive Summary: Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) is an industrial chemical used in the production of a wide range of products for surfactants and coatings. PFOS is widely spread in the environment and is found in humans and wildlife. Because these chemicals appear to accumulate in the body it is important to understand routes of exposure for humans. Due to the fact that biosolids containing PFOS from wastewater treatment plants are spread on cattle pastures and animal food crops it is important to know to what extent agricultural animals such as cattle absorb and accumulate PFOS. For these reasons we have conducted a study to look at the absorption, distribution, and excretion of PFOS Lowline Angus steers. After a single oral dose of PFOS given to steers, we determined that PFOS is minimally excreted in the urine and larger amounts are excreted in feces. There were PFOS concentrations in the muscle and plasma of the steers indicating PFOS would be in the body a long time and acute exposure of steers to PFOS could contribute to human exposure of PFOS.

Technical Abstract: Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), a perfluoroalkyl surfactant used in many industrial products, is present in industrial wastes and in wastewater treatment plant biosolids. Biosolids are commonly applied to pastures and crops used for animal feed; consequently, PFOS may accumulate in the edible tissues of grazing animals or in animals exposed to contaminated feeds. A 28-day study was conducted for PFOS in 3 Lowline Angus steers following a single oral dose of PFOS at approximately 10 mg/kg body weight. The major route of excretion was in the feces (11 ± 1.3% of the dose), with minimal PFOS elimination in urine (0.5 ± 0.07% of the dose). At day 28 the mean plasma concentrations remained elevated and it was estimated that 35.8 ± 4.3% of the dose was present in the plasma. The largest PFOS body burdens were in the blood (~36%), carcass remainder (5.7 ± 1.6%) and the muscle (4.3 ± 0.6%). It was concluded that PFOS would accumulate in edible tissues of beef, which could be a source of exposure for humans.