Genotoxicity of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) to the green mussel (Perna viridis)

Changhui Liu, Victor W.C. Chang, Karina Y.H. Gin, Viet Tung Nguyen

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Concerns regarding perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) have grown significantly in recent years. However, regulations and guidelines regarding the emission and treatment of PFCs are still missing in most parts of the world, mostly due to the lack of PFC toxicity data. In the current study, the genotoxic effects of four common PFCs, named perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), perfluoroocanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) and perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) were investigated on marine mussels. The effects of exposure time and concentration on the toxic behavior of the compounds were also examined. Genotoxicity of PFCs was assessed in biomarker assays, showing that exposure to the target compounds could damage the organism's genetic material to varying extents, including DNA strand breaks and fragmentation, chromosomal breaks and apoptosis. The adverse effects increased with both exposure concentration and time and were related with the organism burden of PFCs. The integrated biomarker response analysis demonstrated that PFOS exhibited a higher genotoxicity than the other tested compounds. The EC50 values and confidence intervals based on integrative genotoxicity were 33 (29-37), 594 (341-1036), 195 (144-265) and 78 (73-84) μg/L for PFOS, PFOA, PFNA and PFDA respectively, classifying PFOS as a highly genotoxic compound. Although primary DNA damage was shown to be recoverable after exposure ceased, permanent genetic damage caused by elevated PFC concentrations was not restored. This is the first ecotoxicity study of PFCs that focuses on the genotoxic effects of the compounds, clearly indicating the genotoxicity of the tested PFCs and demonstrating that functional groups have a major impact on the compounds' genotoxic behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-122
Number of pages6
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Perfluorinated chemicals
  • Genotoxicity
  • Marine mussels
  • Bioaccumulation

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