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K. Van de V ijver.1, P. H off1, W . Van Dongen2, E. Esmans2, R. Blust Jand W .M . De C oen1
1 D epartment o f Biology, Laboratory fo r Ecophysiology, Biochem istry a n d Toxicology, University o f Antwerp
2 Department o f Chemistry, N ucleoside research a n d mass spectrom etry unit, University o f Antw erp
Estuarine and coastline ecosystems are o f major economic im portance, but due to large industrial and domestic
waste water discharges, the structure and functions o f these habitats are often disturbed. Like other estuarine
areas, the W estern Scheldt estuary, situated in the southwest o f the Netherlands and the north o f Belgium, is a
highly polluted ecosystem. Until now attention was primarly focused on organochlorines, pesticides and heavy
metals because o f their persistent character and ability to accum ulate in aquatic organisms. Research
investigating another group o f im portant pollutants, the fluorinated organic com pounds (FOCs), has received
much less attention. As recent studies have indicated that FOCs occur w orldwide in the environment, show high
persistence and little or no biodégradation, it becomes m ore and m ore im portant to characterize the distribution
patterns and effects o f fluorinated organochemicals. An important representative o f these fluorinated chemicals
is perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). In the present study, we determ ined, for the first time, the PFOSexposure levels in vertebrate and invertebrate biota from the W estern Scheldt estuary. W e sampled various
organisms during several field campaigns. All tissue samples were extracted in m ethanol and concentrations o f
PFOS were determined using high perform ance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry
(HPLC/M S/M S). The concentration o f PFOS in crab (Carcinus m aenas), shrimp (Crangon crangon), bib
(Trisopterus luscus) and plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) provide a basic set o f data for estimating fluoro-organic
chemical contamination levels in the estuarine environment and for further studies concerning the distribution
patterns in estuarine ecosystems.