Analysis of PFAAs in American alligators part 1: Concentrations in alligators harvested for consumption during South Carolina public hunts

Jessica J. Tipton , Louis J. Guillette Jr , Susan Lovelace , Benjamin B. Parrott , Thomas R. Rainwater , Jessica L. Reiner


Received March 06, 2017,Revised May 04, 2017, Accepted May 09, 2017, Available online June 20, 2017

Volume 29,2017,Pages 24-30

Environmental contamination resulting from the production or release of harmful chemicals can lead to negative consequences for wildlife and human health. Perfluorinated alkyl acids (PFAAs) were historically produced as protective coatings for many household items and currently persist in the environment, wildlife, and humans. PFAAs have been linked to immune suppression, endocrine disruption, and developmental toxicity in wildlife and laboratory studies. This study examines the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, as an important indicator of ecosystem contamination and a potential pathway for PFAA exposure in humans. Alligator meat harvested in the 2015 South Carolina (SC) public hunt season and prepared for human consumption was collected and analyzed for PFAAs to determine meat concentrations and relationships with animal body size (total length), sex, and location of harvest. Of the 15 PFAAs analyzed, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was found in all alligator meat samples and at the highest concentrations (median 6.73 ng/g). No relationship was found between PFAA concentrations and total length or sex. Concentrations of one or all compounds varied significantly across sampling locations, with alligators harvested in the Middle Coastal hunt unit having the highest PFOS concentrations (median 16.0 ng/g; p = 0.0001). Alligators harvested specifically from Berkley County, SC (located in the Middle Coastal hunt unit) had the highest PFOS concentrations and the greatest number of PFAAs detected (p < 0.0001). The site-specific nature of PFAA concentrations in alligator meat observed in this study suggests a source of PFAA contamination in Berkley County, SC.

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