Effects of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate
on acute toxicity, superoxide dismutase, and cellulase activity
in the earthworm Eisenia fetida
Received: 20 August 2016 /Accepted: 7 June 2017 /Published online: 20 June 2017
Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017
Abstract Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane
sulfonate (PFOS) are the two best-known perfluorinated
chemicals and have received much attention due to their ubiquity
in the environment. In the present study, we evaluated the effects
of PFOS and PFOA on acute toxicity, superoxide dismutase
(SOD), and cellulase activities in Eisenia fetida.Theresultsof
acute toxicity testing using a filter paper contact test and a natural
field soil test showed that PFOA and PFOS exhibited acute tox-
icity in earthworms, and the toxic effect of PFOS was greater
than that of PFOA. The results also showed that avoidance be-
havior is a more sensitive and easy operation biomarker than
acute toxicity and will give us information for early diagnosis
of soil pollution, well before the lethal effect becomes apparent.
Subchronic exposure to PFOA or PFOS resulted in changes in
SOD and cellulase activities in E. fetida, and SOD activity was
more sensitive than cellulase activity during early exposure.
Based on these findings, we suggest that avoidance behavior
and SOD activity in earthworms are suitable biomarkers for
evaluating the toxicity of PFOA- and PFOS-contaminated soils.
These results indicate that exposure to PFOA and PFOS has a
potential impact on soil animals and their environment.
Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) comprise a large group of
organic chemicals, which are very stable and are highly
resistant to chemical and biological degradation as a result
of strong covalent bonds between the fluorine and carbon
(Schuetze et al. 2010). PFCs have been widely used for
over half a century in industrial and consumer products,
such as fire-fighting foam, cosmetics, stain-resistant tex-
tiles and fabrics, surface protecting agents for paper, and
food packaging (van Asselt et al. 2013). Their wide use
and persistence mean that they are found globally in the
environment, including remote Artic regions (Lin et al.
2014;Routtietal.2015) both in wildlife and in humans.
Therefore, concerns regarding adverse health effects
of these substances in wildlife and humans have
increased. In 2000, the OECD declared that PFCs were
bioaccumulative, biopersistent, and toxic to mammals
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, CF
perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS, CF
H) are the
best-known PFCs and have received much attention due to
their ubiquity in the environment. General toxicological find-
ings associated with exposure to PFOA and PFOS include
hepatotoxicity, hepatocellular adenoma, reproductive toxicity,
developmental toxicity, lung toxicity, neurobehavioral toxici-
ty, and immunotoxicity (Malinverno et al. 2005; Luebker et al.
2005; Johansson et al. 2008; Butenhoff et al. 2012;Grandjean
et al. 2012).
It is known that earthworms break up large pieces of or-
ganic matter and stimulate microbial activity and their activi-
ties are essential for soil formation (Edwards 2004). Due to
earthworms are closely linked to substance cycling and energy
transformation of the terrestrial environment and are sensitiv-
ity to chemicals, earthworms have been used as ideal
Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues
* Jianyong Zhang
School of Life Sciences, Shandong University of Technology, 12
Zhangzhou Road, Zibo, People’s Republic of China
Environ Sci Pollut Res (2017) 24:18188–18194