Quail eggs

The primary objective of this project is to conduct ecotoxicity studies that yield defensible and usable toxicity reference values (TRVs) for wildlife potentially exposed to common per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

A secondary objective is to develop and validate a low-cost, prioritization protocol for evaluating other PFAS that may drive risk at Department of Defense (DoD) sites. Together, these objectives can help guide informed site-specific risk assessments. 

Technical Approach

This project will conduct PFAS ecotoxicity studies on common (avian, fish, and invertebrate) and historically underrepresented taxa (reptilian). Studies will include acute and chronic exposures and will evaluate endpoints suitable for TRV derivation. 

PFAS are a diverse class of chemicals and exist in the environment as mixtures, but few chemicals have been evaluated for potential ecotoxicity. As such, this project will also identify other PFAS commonly associated with active DoD installations. Then, a prioritization algorithm will be used to combine different sources and types of information to yield a ranking of PFAS in terms of the likelihood of posing a risk to wildlife. This prioritization protocol can be applied to assess whether other, novel PFAS should undergo more extensive toxicity evaluation.


The lack of comprehensive, robust, and defensible ecotoxicity data on PFAS hinders risk assessment and represents a roadblock to sound environmental management decisions. The lack of a streamlined but robust approach for toxicity testing and decision-making regarding “other” PFAS that occur at high frequency and concentration at DoD sites will slow environmental management decisions and lead to unsupported risk decisions, potentially resulting in unnecessary costs. This research to better understand the ecological risk of PFAS will help to ensure military readiness, range sustainability, and public health and environmental protectiveness. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2023)


Ankley, G.T., P. Cureton, R.A. Hoke, M. Houde, A. Kumar, J. Kurias, R. Lanno, C. McCarthy, J. Newsted, C.J. Salice, B.E. Sample, M.S. Sepúlveda, J. Steevens, and S. Valsecchi. 2021. Assessing the Ecological Risks of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances: Current State-of-the Science and a Proposed Path Forward. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 40:564-605.

Dennis, N.M., F. Hossain, S. Subbiah, A. Karnjanapiboonwong, M.L. Dennis, C. McCarthy, C.G. Heron, W.A. Jackson, J.P. Crago, J.A. Field, C.J. Salice, and T.A. Anderson. 2022. Chronic Reproductive Toxicity Thresholds for Northern Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus) Exposed to Perfluorohexanoic Acid (PFHxA) and a Mixture of Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS) and PFHxA. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 41(1):219-229.

Dennis, N.M., A. Karnjanapiboonwong, S. Subbiah, J.N. Rewerts, J.A. Field, C. McCarthy, C.J. Salice, and T.E. Anderson. 2020. Chronic Reproductive Toxicity of Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid and a Simple Mixture of Pefluorooctane Sulfonic Acid and Perfluorohexane Sulfonic Acid to Northern Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus). Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 39(5):1101-1111.

Dennis, N.M., S. Subbiah, A. Karnjanapiboonwong, M.L. Dennis, C. McCarthy, C.J. Salice, and T.A. Anderson. 2021. Chronic Avian Toxicity Reference Values for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and a Binary Mixture of PFOS and Perfluorohexane Sulfonate. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 40:899-909.

East, A.G., R.H. Anderson, and C.J. Salice. 2021. Prioritizing PFAS and PFAS Mixtures for Ecotoxicity Testing and Ecological Risk Assessment Near Current and Former U.S. Air Force Bases. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 40:871-882.

McCarthy, C.J., S.A. Roark, D. Wright, K. O’Neal, B. Muckey, M. Stanaway, J. Rewerts, J. Field, T.A. Anderson, and C.J. Salice. Toxicological Response of Chironomus Dilutes in Single Chemical and Binary Mixture Exposure Experiments with Six Perfluoroalkyl Substances. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 40(8):2319-2333.

Rewerts, J.N., E.C. Christie, A.E. Robel, T.E. Anderson, C. McCarthy, C.J. Salice, and J.A. Field. 2020. Key Considerations for Accurate Exposures in Ecotoxicological Assessments of Perfluorinated Carboxylates and Sulfonates. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 40(3):677-688. doi.org/10.1002/etc.4667.

Salice, C.J., T.A. Anderson, A. Olson, and R.H. Anderson. 2018. Ecological Risk Assessment of Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) to Aquatic Fauna from a Bayou Located on Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 37(8):2198-2209.

Suski, J.G., C.J. Salice, M.K. Chanov, J. Ayers, J.N. Rewerts, and J.A. Field. 2021. Sensitivity and Accumulation of Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS) in Fathead Minnows (Pimephales promelas) Exposed Over Critical Life-Stages of Reproduction and Development. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 40:811-819.