Occurrence and distribution of conventional and new classes of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in the South China Sea

Karen Y. Kwok, Xin Hong Wang, Miaolei Ya, Yongyu Li, Xiao Hua Zhang, Nobuyoshi Yamashita, James C.W. Lam, Paul K.S. Lam

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102 Citations (Scopus)


Concentrations of 23 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), including new classes of PFASs, in seawater samples were investigated for their occurrence and the interaction of the ocean currents with the distribution of PFASs in the South China Sea. This study revealed that socio-economic development was associated with the PFAS contamination in coastal regions of South China. Significant correlations between concentration of total PFASs with gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and population density were found in the areas, suggesting that the influence of intense human activities in these areas may have resulted in higher PFAS contamination to the adjacent environment. Di-substituted polyfluoroalkyl phosphate (diPAP), one of the potential replacements for PFASs, was only detected in the heavily developed region, namely Pearl River Delta (PRD). Total PFAS concentrations, ranging from 195 to 4925. pg/L, were detected at 51 sampling stations of the South China Sea. The results also confirmed that PFAS contamination in the South China Sea is strongly affected by the ocean currents. In comparison to perfluoroactane sulfonate (PFOS) concentrations measured nine years ago at the same locations, the concentrations in this study were found to be two times higher. This indicated that the use and production of perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFSAs) has been continuing in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-397
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Di-substituted polyfluoroalkyl phosphate (diPAP)
  • Human activities
  • Pearl River Delta (PRD)
  • Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)
  • South China Sea


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