Brian Martinez and his team from the University of Florida conducted a study examining PFAS in swimming pools.  Swimming pools are an under researched water matrix for PFAS exposure. They published their findings in Chemosphere under the title “Swimming with PFAS in public and private pools.”

PFAS in Pools

The team found PFAS in every pool they tested. []  They tested 54 pools in total. These pools were in six cities in Florida. The cities were Miami, Gainesville, Orlando, Melbourne, Naples, and Tampa. The pools were of different types. Some were city pools, some were apartment pools, some were hotel pools, and some were personal pools.

PFAS Detected

The team detected 14 different PFAS. Six of these were in every sample. These six were PFBA, PFHxA, PFHpA, PFOA, PFNA, and PFBS. PFHxA was the most common. It made up 49% of all PFAS found.

The levels of PFAS varied. The highest level was 633 ppt. This was in a city pool in Melbourne. The lowest level was 1.9 ppt. This was also in a city pool. The team found no significant difference in PFAS levels between different types of pools.

PFAS Exposure

The team’s findings show that swimming in pools can expose people to PFAS. This is a new and important finding. It shows that we need to consider pools when we think about how people are exposed to PFAS.

Harmful Effects of PFAS Exposure

PFAS are a concern because they can harm health. They have been linked to cancer and other diseases. []  The US EPA has set health advisory levels for some PFAS. These include PFOA and PFOS. The team found that most of the PFOA and PFOS levels in the pools were above these advisory levels.

Study Methodology

The team collected 54 pool water samples in the summer of 2021. The samples were from city, apartment, hotel, and personal pools. The team collected the samples in 500 mL high-density polyethylene bottles. They rinsed the bottles three times with pool water before collecting the samples. They kept the samples on ice for transport to the lab. They stored the samples in a freezer at -20 C until they were ready to test them.

PFAS Extraction

The team used a method called solid phase extraction to extract the PFAS from the samples. They acidified the samples before extraction. They used acetic acid to do this. They then spiked the samples with a mixture of isotopically labeled analogs. These analogs were used as internal standards to quantify the PFAS. The team loaded the samples onto cartridges. They then washed the cartridges with a buffer solution. They dried the cartridges under vacuum for 10 minutes. They then eluted the samples into tubes. They evaporated the samples down to about 1 mL for analysis.

PFAS Analysis

The team used a method called UHPLC-MS/MS to analyze the 54 samples of pool water. This method can detect and measure PFAS. The team used a Gemini C18 column for chromatographic separation.

Quality Assurance and Quality Control

The team used quality control samples to assess the performance of the analysis. They compared the experimentally derived concentrations to the expected concentrations to check accuracy. All data presented in the study was within the acceptable precision.

Results and Discussion

The team found that PFAS concentrations were similar across all pool types. The highest and lowest measurements were found in public city pools. The team found higher PFAS levels in city pools in Miami, Melbourne, and Tampa compared to Naples, Orlando, and Gainesville. The team found that all samples surpassed the US EPA pre-published health advisory limits for either PFOS or PFOA.

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