A multimedia multi-species environmental fate model was developed for the conjugate pair perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA):perfluorooctanoate (PFO). The model allows assessment of the relative contribution of each individual species, in equilibrium with each other, to the overall environmental movement of the pair. The Lake Ontario (Canada/USA) watershed system was selected for this investigation and is simulated in a single-region, seven-compartment model, including a water surface microlayer, and aqueous aerosol generation and redeposition. Results indicate that in the equilibrated presence of both PFOA and PFO, the environmental fate of the pair can be accomplished by consideration of the physical properties of the neutral acid, which govern the intermedia distribution of the pair, coupled with processes of media advection, such as air or water flow. The role of the anion, while the most populous species in the aqueous phase, appears merely to be as a source of the neutral acid for subsequent partitioning. Thus, when only the bulk aqueous phase anion concentrations are of interest a multimedia fate model is not required because these concentrations are largely predictable from the magnitude of emissions to and the advection of the phase. With neutral species partitioning, all local field measurement concentrations of the conjugate pair, PFO(A), are explained by the model to within approximately an order of magnitude, with the exception of lake sediment solids. Model results indicate that bulk aqueous phase PFO acts as a net source for PFOA to the atmosphere, where it may be subject to long-range transport (LRT). Initial calculations suggest an atmospheric LRT potential for PFO(A) of thousands of kilometers, rendering it comparable to hexachlorobenzene. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:1466–1475. © 2010 SETAC
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