Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a large and diverse class of chemicals. While some have been phased out internationally due to concerns over their human and environmental health risks, novel alternative PFASs continue to be manufactured and detected in environmental samples. The occurrence and fate of these alternatives remain poorly understood. The present study investigated the occurrence of an emerging class of PFAS alternative, the monohydrogen-substituted perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (H–PFCAs), in conjunction with the more well-known PFCAs. A weak anion exchange solid phase extraction-liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry method for quantitative determination of H–PFCAs in surface water was developed, validated, and applied on samples collected from the Netherlands. To improve chromatography, especially for short-chain (H-)PFCAs, an ion-pairing agent, tetrabutylammonium hydrogen sulphate, was used. The method was validated for linearity (R2 > 0.99), instrumental detection limits (0.01–0.09 ng/mL), method detection limits (0.03–0.75 ng/mL), matrix effects (<20%), percent absolute- and relative recovery (57–121%), trueness (130-80%), repeatability (<20%), and within-lab reproducibility (<20%). Eleven out of fourteen PFASs showed acceptable results. Application of the newly validated method to surface water throughout the Netherlands revealed trace levels of H–PFCAs (including two new H–PFCAs) and high concentrations of PFCAs.
- Surface water