The search for alternative aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) with a low environmental impact : physiological and transcriptomic effects of two Forafac® fluorosurfactants in turbot
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Veterinary Sciences
Aquatic toxicology. - Amsterdam
, p. 168-176
University of Antwerp
Fluorosurfactants are the key components in aqueous film forming foams (AFFF). They provide these fire fighting agents with the required low surface tension and they enable film formation on top of lighter fuels to prevent burn back. Development of effective and environmentally acceptable PFOS alternatives is one of the most important priorities in the fire fighting foam industry. DuPont offers the fluorosurfactant mixtures Forafac®1157 and Forafac®1157 N for the formulation of AFFFs which are alternatives to the persistent and toxic perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS). Ecotoxicological testing of these inadequately documented mixtures is necessary to include them in AFFF hazard and risk assessment. Juvenile turbot (Scophthalmus maximus) were exposed for 14 days to 0.1; 0.5 and 1.5 mg/l of the fluorosurfactant mixtures used in Forafac®1157 and Forafac®1157 N. In an initial transcriptomics experiment, microarray analysis revealed differentially expressed transcripts of genes which were mainly involved in digestion and in the immune system. This discovery-driven screening approach offered the basis for new hypotheses that were tested in two subsequent experiments in which food intake, energy reserves, growth and a set of haematological parameters were examined. Additionally, effects of the two mixtures were compared to those of PFOS. Based on the results of this study, the mode of action of Forafac®1157 N was the activation of the acute phase reaction resulting in increased leukocyte concentrations and the inhibition of growth due to the high energetic cost of toxicant exposure. For Forafac®1157, evidences of immunosuppression were found on the transcriptional level and the altered differential leukocyte profiles indicated that stress was induced in these fish. However, food intake, energy reserves and growth were not compromised, even at high exposure concentrations, which was in contrast to the effects seen after PFOS exposure. Taking into account that Forafac®1157 appeared to be less toxic than PFOS, this mixture could be considered as a more environmentally acceptable PFOS alternative for the use in AFFFs.