University of Antwerp, Belgium
Thimo Groffen is a PhD Candidate in the Systemic Physiological and Ecotoxicological Research (SPHERE) and Behavioral Ecology and Ecophysiology (BECO) groups at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. He earned his Master’s degree in Biology in 2015 in which he studied PFAS in the aquatic environment of the Vaal River in South Africa. He is currently working on the distribution and toxicity of elevated PFAS concentrations in the terrestrial environment, mainly songbirds and invertebrates, near a fluorochemical hotspot in Belgium. In addition, he developed a novel analytical method for the detection and quantification of PFAS in multiple environmental matrices.
PFAS in the Terrestrial Environment Near a Hotspot in Belgium
The global presence and persistence of PFAS has led to the voluntary phase-out of PFOS, PFOA and related products in the early 2000s by the major global manufacturer 3M. However, despite the phase-out and multiple regulatory measures, these, and other PFAS, are detected at high concentrations in the terrestrial environment near a 3M fluorochemical plant in Antwerp, Belgium. Multiple studies have confirmed that the terrestrial environment near and at the 3M site near Antwerp contain among the highest PFAS concentrations ever reported in wildlife (up to 180 000 ng/g ww in bird eggs). The elevated concentrations make it an important site to not only monitor environmental PFAS concentrations, but also to investigate potential effects on wildlife. Therefore, we examined the potential toxicity of elevated PFAS concentrations on reproduction and oxidative status of a wild bird species, the great tit (Parus major) at the 3M site and at other sites along a distance gradient. Additionally, we determined PFAS concentrations in the soil and isopods and examined whether isopods could serve as bio-indicator for PFAS concentrations in bird eggs.