Perfluoroalkylated substances in edible livers of farm animals, including depuration behaviour in young sheep fed with contaminated grass

Effrosyni Zafeiraki, Irene Vassiliadou, Danae Costopoulou, Leondios Leondiadis, Helmut A. Schafft, Ron L.A.P. Hoogenboom, Stefan P.J. van Leeuwen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Perfluoroalkylated substances (PFASs) present a potential health risk for consumers. In animals these compounds are known to accumulate in livers. In order to determine potential PFASs contamination in commercially available livers, samples from farmed sheep, horses, cows, pigs and chicken were collected from the Dutch market. PFOS was the only detectable PFAS and its concentration was higher in free ranging animals like cows and sheep. The detected levels of PFOS in the liver samples were very low (up to 4.5 ng g-1 ww). To further study the kinetic behaviour in foraging animals, samples from a study in which sheep were fed with grass obtained from a river floodplain, were examined. PFOS was the only detectable PFAS in the contaminated grass pellets, showing a level of about 0.5 μg kg-1. Young blackhead sheep were fed with either clean or contaminated grass for a period up to 112 days. A time-dependent increase in liver PFOS concentrations was observed from 2.4 to 10.9 ng g-1 ww after 8 and 112 days respectively. A time-dependent depuration was observed in livers of animals switched to clean grass after 56 days of exposure, from 9.2 to 4.7 ng g-1 ww after 64 and 112 days respectively. The percentage of PFOS ingested from the grass and retained in the liver was estimated to be 12% at day 56, and decreased gradually to 6% after 56 days on clean grass, showing that the decrease in levels is not only caused by an increase in liver weight. Levels detected in commercial livers but also those in the sheep study would not lead to exceedance of the current TDI for PFOS set by EFSA. Therefore, it can be assumed that they do not present a risk for human health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-285
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Grass
  • Liver
  • PFASs
  • PFOS
  • Sheep


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