PFAS burdens in wildlife

Key questions: What scientific papers have been published on the PFAS burdens in wildlife? What areas of PFAS in wildlife have been sufficiently researched and which areas need more work?

alt text here Aims

PFAS is ubiquitously present in the environment worldwide. This includes wildlife. Animals are exposed to PFAS through food and water. In the animals’’ body, PFAS binds to proteins in the blood and muscles. Subsequently, it can take several years before PFAS is eliminated from the body. The longer an animal lives and the higher up it is positioned in the food chain, the more PFAS it will accumulate.

PFAS exposure presents a significant health risk for wildlife species, just as it is for humans. This is particularly problematic for species that are already under threat by other anthropogenic factors (e.g., habitat destruction, climate change). In addition, multiple wildlife species (fish, seafood, game animals, etc.) are a significant food source for a large percentage of the world’’s human population. The presence of PFAS in wildlife is therefore a serious concern for public health.

In this study we aimed to collect the available scientific literature on PFAS concentrations in wildlife and present it in a comprehensive overview. We will show which species were studied, where these species were studied and by whom, which PFAS were measured, what types of samples of the animals were collected, etc.

Our study will reveal gaps and gluts in the scientific literature on the topic. It will therefore direct future research by showing which species, regions, PFAS types, etc., have been satisfyingly studied and which ones still need attention. Our project will allow the general population and policy makers to easily find reliable evidence sources containing data on PFAS burdens in wildlife.

alt text here Methods

We did not perform any lab experiments ourselves. Instead, we used a well-established method of data synthesis, called [systematic mapping][about_synthesis.html]. In this process we compiled published scientific studies that investigated PFAS burdens in wildlife. Subsequently, we extracted the relevant information (study species, PFAS type, sample type, study country, etc.) from these studies and created multiple diagrams and colour-coded maps to present the distribution of published evidence in a way that is easy and quick to grasp at first glance. In addition, we performed another type of analysis called [bibliometric analysis][about_synthesis.html]. Bibliometric analysis allows insight into the variety of disciplinary approaches used (e.g., ecotoxicology, wildlife health, ecology), the collaboration networks of research groups and involvement of researchers across different institutions and countries. Therefore, bibliometric analysis is a way to quantify and visualize the infrastructure of a research field.

alt text here Findings

Pending – we are currently finalizing analyses of our data and writing up results.

Primary study questions

We begin by investigating the geographical environments which are featured in these studies.

Graph 2

Graph 3

Graph 4

Graph 5

Graph 6

Secondary study questions

Graph 1

Graph 2 - Map of first Author countries

Graph 3

Graph 4

alt text here Conclusions


Pending – we are currently finalizing analyses of our data and writing up results.

Download example dataset as CSV here