Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Engineering and Earth Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Nicole Martinez

Committee Member

Dr. Timothy DeVol

Committee Member

Dr. Nishanth Tharayil


Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a surfactant, is a member of the perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) family and is a contaminant of emerging concern for human and environmental health. PFOA is a persistent organic pollutant but currently little is known about (1) the potential ecological and toxicological effects of PFOA and (2) how PFOA moves in the environment. This study employs a radiotracer (14C-PFOA) to study the uptake and effects of PFOA in hydroponically grown Brassica juncea, a representative crop species. Plants were exposed in quadruplicate over the course of seven days (with plants sampled on day 4 and day 7) to PFOA concentrations of 0, 1, 5, 10, and 15 mg/L. Several biological endpoints were observed including chlorophyll content, biomass, height, and leaf number. Uptake was quantified via liquid scintillation counting of samples from the nutrient solution (ns), roots, stems, and leaves. These data suggest that there are no adverse effects associated with exposure to PFOA. The conservative bioconcentration factor (BCF) ranges for the roots, leaves, and stems are 1.74 ± 0.09 to 23.62 ± 1.24 gns/groot, 3.14 ± 0.18 to 24.43 ± 1.28 gns/gleaves, 0.36 ± 0.02 to 18.45 ± 0.97 gns/gstem, respectively. This work has shown a need to reconsider how PFOA, and possibly other PFAS compounds, are being sampled in determining the concentration of contaminants in the nutrient solution and consequently the BCF.



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