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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Food Animal Metabolism Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #384776

Research Project: Detection and Fate of Environmental Chemical and Biological Residues and their Impact on the Food Supply

Location: Food Animal Metabolism Research

Title: Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) uptake by alfalfa (Medicago sativa)

item Lupton, Sara
item HAKK, HELDUR - Retired ARS Employee
item CASEY, FRANCIS - North Dakota State University
item Smith, David

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/14/2021
Publication Date: 7/29/2021
Citation: Lupton, S.J., Hakk, H., Casey, F., Smith, D.J. 2021. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) uptake by alfalfa (Medicago sativa). North American Chemical Residue Workshop. Abstract.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a perfluorinated alkyl substance (PFAS) used as a surfactant in industrial and consumer products such as coatings for paper and textile fabrics but also is a degradation product from other PFAS formulations. Concern has increased over presence of PFOA in wastewater treatment plants and biosolids from these plants which are used as fertilizer on agricultural lands, additionally PFOA contamination has been found in aquifers due to use of firefighting foams near airports and Air Force bases. Use of biosolids and contaminated water on agricultural land could result in release of PFOA into the environment accompanied by transport through the soil and/or uptake by agricultural crops, such as alfalfa, that are used to feed livestock. A study was undertaken to quantify the uptake by alfalfa and transport through soil of 14C-PFOA topically applied to a typical North Dakota agricultural soil over 10 weeks. By 7 days post application, PFOA was measurable in the roots, stems, and leaves with accumulation being the greatest in the leaves over the 10 weeks. PFOA migration over 10 weeks through unplanted soil reached a depth of 22.8 ± 2.5 cm, whereas in planted soil PFOA only migrated to a depth of 7.5 ± 2.5 cm. PFOA transport through soil may be deterred by the presence of crops, however PFOA accumulation in the edible portions of the crops may increase food animal exposure to PFOA residues and also possibly contaminate further consumer products.