A methylene group in the fluorinated carbon backbone of 1H,1H,2H,2H,8H,8H–perfluorododecanol (degradable telomer fluoroalcohol, DTFA) renders the molecule cleavable by microbial degradation into two fluorinated carboxylic acids. Several biodegradation products of DTFA are known, but their rates of conversion and fates in the environment have not been determined. We used liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) to quantitatively investigate DTFA biodegradation by the microbial community in activated sludge in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) flasks, which we also determined here showed least adsorption of DTFA. A reduction in DTFA concentration in the medium was accompanied by rapid increases in the concentrations of 2H,2H,8H,8H–perfluorododecanoic acid (2H,2H,8H,8H–PFDoA), 2H,8H,8H-2-perfluorododecenoic acid (2H,8H,8H-2-PFUDoA), and 2H,2H,8H-7-perfluorododecenoic acid and 2H,2H,8H-8-perfluorododecenoic acid (2H,2H,8H-7-PFUDoA/2H,2H,8H-8-PFUDoA), which were in turn followed by an increase in 6H,6H–perfluorodecanoic acid (6H,6H–PFDeA) concentration, and decreases in 2H,2H,8H,8H–PFDoA, 2H,8H,8H-2-PFUDoA, and 2H,2H,8H-7-PFUDoA/2H,2H,8H-8-PFUDoA concentrations. Accumulation of perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA), a presumed end product of DTFA degradation, was also detected. Our quantitative and time-course study of the concentrations of these compounds reveals main routes of DTFA biodegradation, and the presence of new biodegradation pathways.
- Mass spectrometry
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology