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Detection of fluorotelomer alcohols in indoor environments and their relevance for human exposure

: Schlummer, Martin; Gruber, Ludwig; Fiedler, Dominik; Kizlauskas, Markus; Müller, Josef


Environment international 57-58 (2013), pp.42-49
ISSN: 0160-4120
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IVV ()

Fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOH) are important precursors of perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCA). These neutral and volatile compounds are frequently found in indoor air and may contribute to the overall human exposure to per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS). In this study air samples of ten workplace environments and a car interior were analysed. In addition, extracts and emissions from selected outdoor textiles were analysed in order to establish their potential contribution to the indoor levels of the above-mentioned compounds.
Concentrations of FTOHs measured in air ranged from 0.15 to 46.8, 0.25 to 286, and 0.11 to 57.5 ng/m3 for 6:2, 8:2 and 10:2 FTOHs, respectively. The highest concentrations in air were identified in shops selling outdoor clothing, indicating outdoor textiles to be a relevant source of FTOH in indoor workplace environments. Total amounts of FTOH in materials of outdoor textiles accounted for < 0.8–7.6, 12.1-180.9 and 4.65-105.7 µg/dm2 for 6:2, 8:2 and 10:2 FTOHs, respectively. Emission from selected textiles revealed emission rates of up to 494 ng/h.
The measured data show that a) FTOHs are present in indoor textiles (e.g. carpets), b) they are released at ambient temperatures and c) indoor air of shops selling outdoor textiles contains the highest levels of FTOH. Exposure of humans to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) through absorption of FTOH and subsequent degradation is discussed on the basis of indoor air levels. Calculation of indoor air-related exposure using the median of the measured air levels revealed that exposure is on the same order of magnitude as the recently reported dietary intakes for a background-exposed population. On the basis of the 95th percentile, indoor air exposure to PFOA was estimated to exceed dietary exposure. However, indoor air-related intakes of FTOH are far below the tolerable daily intake (TDI) of PFOA, indicating that there is no risk to health, even when assuming an unrealistic complete degradation of FTOH into PFOA.