John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

TFA from HFO‐1234yf: Accumulation and aquatic risk in terminal water bodies

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A next‐generation mobile automobile air‐conditioning (MAC) refrigerant, HFO‐1234yf (CF3CF = CH2), is being developed with improved environmental characteristics. In the atmosphere, it ultimately forms trifluoroacetic acid (TFA(A); CF3COOH), which is subsequently scavenged by precipitation and deposited on land and water as trifluoroacetate (TFA; CF3COO‐). Trifluoroacetate is environmentally stable and has the potential to accumulate in terminal water bodies, that is, aquatic systems receiving inflow but with little or no outflow and with high rates of evaporation. Previous studies have estimated the emission rates of HFO‐1234yf and have modeled the deposition concentrations and rates of TFA across North America. The present study uses multimedia modeling and geographic information system (GIS)‐based modeling to assess the potential concentrations of TFA in terminal water bodies over extended periods. After 10 years of emissions, predicted concentrations of TFA in terminal water bodies across North America are estimated to range between current background levels (i.e., 0.01–0.22 µg/L) and 1 to 6 µg/L. After 50 years of continuous emissions, aquatic concentrations of 1 to 15 µg/L are predicted, with extreme concentrations of up to 50 to 200 µg/L in settings such as the Sonoran Desert along the California/Arizona (USA) border. Based on the relative insensitivity of aquatic organisms to TFA, predicted concentrations of TFA in terminal water bodies are not expected to impair aquatic systems, even considering potential emissions over extended periods. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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