Assessment of Potential Accumulation of Trifluoroacetate in Terminal Lakes

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Trifluoroacetate (TFA) is the anionic form of the shortest perfluorocarboxylic acid (PFCA) and is ubiquitous in the environment at concentrations that are typically much higher than those of other PFCAs. As a stable and nonvolatile anion, it is expected to accumulate in terminal lakes in endorheic basins. This research sampled eight terminal lakes in the Western United States to determine the degree to which TFA is concentrating in these lakes and compare the data to samples collected from three of these lakes 25 years ago. The first observation was that three of the six terminal lakes sampled had higher TFA concentrations than their input streams, while the last two lakes lacked surface water inputs at the sampling time. The TFA concentrations in Mono Lake effectively remained constant over 25 years despite the input stream concentrations increasing 6.5-fold. In contrast, Pyramid Lake concentrations increased approximately the expected amount based on a simplistic analysis of input flows and concentrations. An additional observation was that lakes in basins with agricultural activity appeared to have higher TFA concentrations, which suggests an agricultural input.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2966-2972
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 13 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • endorheic basin
  • PFAA
  • TFA
  • trifluoroacetic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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