Increases in Trifluoroacetate Concentrations in Surface Waters over Two Decades

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23 Scopus citations


Trifluoroacetate (TFA) is a persistent perfluorinated alkanoic acid anion that has many anthropogenic sources, with fluorocarbon refrigerants being a major one. After an initial burst of research in the late 1990s and early 2000s, research on this ubiquitous pollutant declined as atmospheric emissions of the precursor compounds grew rapidly. Thus, there is little contemporaneous information about the concentrations of TFA in the environment and how they have changed over time. This research determined the change in TFA concentrations in streams by resampling a transect that was originally sampled in 1998. The transect was designed to determine the regional distribution of TFA both upwind and downwind of major metropolitan areas in Northern California as well as a set of globally remote sites in Alaska. The results showed that TFA concentrations increased by an average of 6-fold over the intervening 23 years, which resulted in a median concentration of 180 ng/L (range 21.3-2790). The highest concentrations were found in streams immediately downwind of the San Francisco Bay Area, while substantially lower concentrations were found in the upwind, regionally remote, and globally remote sites. The C3to C5perfluorinated alkanoic acids were also investigated, but they were rarely detected with this methodology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9428-9434
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 5 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • PFAA
  • PFPeA
  • PFPrA
  • TFA
  • atmospheric deposition
  • trifluoroacetic acid
  • ultrashort-chain perfluoroalkyl acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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