Volume 17, Issue 4 p. 684-690
Special Series: Ecological Risk Assessment for Per- and Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS)

Relative acute toxicity of three per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances on nine species of larval amphibians

Brian J Tornabene

Corresponding Author

Brian J Tornabene

Wildlife Biology Program, WA Franke College of Forestry & Conservation, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, USA

Address correspondence to [email protected]

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Michael F Chislock

Michael F Chislock

Department of Environmental Science and Ecology, SUNY-Brockport, Brockport, New York, USA

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Megan E Gannon

Megan E Gannon

Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

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Maria S Sepúlveda

Maria S Sepúlveda

Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

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Jason T Hoverman

Jason T Hoverman

Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

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First published: 15 January 2021
Citations: 7

This article is part of the special series “Ecological Risk Assessment for Per- and Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances.” The series documents and advances the current state of the practice, with respect to ecotoxicological research, environmental exposure monitoring and modeling, ecologically based screening benchmarks, and risk assessment frameworks.

ABSTRACT

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are widespread, persistent environmental pollutants known to elicit a wide range of negative effects on wildlife species. There is scarce information regarding the toxicity of PFAS on amphibians, but amphibians may be highly susceptible because of their permeable skin and dependence on fresh water. Acute toxicity studies are a first step toward understanding responses to PFAS exposure, providing benchmarks for species-specific tolerances, informing ecological risk assessment (ERA), and designing chronic toxicity studies. We conducted standardized 96-h lethal concentration (LC50) toxicity tests for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) with 9 widely distributed amphibian species native to eastern and central North America. We also conducted LC50 tests with perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) for 2 species and determined whether toxicity of PFOS and PFOA varied between life stages for 3 species. Acute toxicity varied among PFAS and species and between developmental stages within species. Across all species, toxicity of PFOS was more than 8× higher than PFOA. Salamanders in the genus Ambystoma were generally more sensitive to PFOS than were anurans (frogs and a toad). Toxicity of PFOA was highest for small-mouthed salamanders and gray tree frogs and lowest for Jefferson salamanders, American bullfrogs, green frogs, and wood frogs. Although only 2 species were exposed to PFHxS, survival was lower for green frogs than for American bullfrogs. Toxicity of PFAS also varied between developmental stages of larvae. Gray tree frogs were more sensitive at later developmental stages, and small-mouthed salamanders were more sensitive at earlier developmental stages. Our study is one of the first to report species-, developmental stage-, and compound-specific differences in sensitivity to PFAS across a wide range of amphibian species. The benchmarks for toxicity we determined can inform conservation and remediation efforts, guide chronic toxicity studies, and help predict influences on amphibian communities, thereby informing future ERAs for PFAS. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2021;17:684–689. © 2021 SETAC

DATA AVAILABILITY STATEMENT

Data associated with this paper are available in the Purdue University Research Repository (PURR; https://purr.purdue.edu/publications/3677/1).