Sulfluramid use in Brazilian agriculture: A source of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) to the environment.Environ Pollut. 2018 Nov; 242(Pt B):1436-1443.EP
N-Ethyl perfluorooctane sulfonamide (EtFOSA) is a perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) precursor and the active ingredient in sulfluramid, a pesticide which is used extensively in Brazil for management of leaf cutting ants. Here we investigate the occurrence of EtFOSA, PFOS, and other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in soil, eucalyptus leaves, water (ground, riverine, and coastal (estuarine/marine)) and coastal sediment from an agricultural region of Bahia State, Brazil. This area contains a larger number of eucalyptus plantations where sulfluramid is suspected to be applied. Soil, leaves, and coastal water (marine/estuarine) contained ∑PFAS concentrations of up to 5400 pg g-1, 979 pg g-1, and 1020 pg L-1, respectively, with PFAS profiles generally dominated by PFOS and perfluorooctane sulfonamide (FOSA). Coastal sediment contained ∑PFAS concentrations of up to 198 pg g-1, with PFOS, FOSA, and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) being the most frequently observed PFASs. These substances are all potential EtFOSA transformation products, pointing to sulfluramid as a possible source. In riverine water, ∑PFAS concentrations of up to 8930 pg L-1 were observed. PFOS and PFOA were detected in all river water samples. Groundwater also exhibited PFAS contamination (5730 pg L-1 ∑PFASs), likely from sulfluramid use. The observation of other PFASs (e.g. perfluorobutanoic acid) in freshwater suggests that other PFAS sources (in addition to sulfluramid) may be important in this region. Overall, these data support the hypothesis that sulfluramid use contributes to the occurrence of PFASs in the Brazilian environment.