Biomonitoring of emerging contaminants, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), in New Jersey adults in 2016–2018

By Chang Ho Yua, David Riker, Shou-en Lu, and Zhihua Tina Fan
Intern.Journal of Hygi. and Environ. Health
November 5, 2019
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2019.10.008


New Jersey (NJ) residents in some areas may be exposed to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) due to PFAS contamination of public drinking water. This contamination stems from industrial discharges and the use of aqueous film-foaming foams at military bases and commercial airports for drills and locations where fires occurred. Exposure to PFAS has raised significant public health concerns due to its persistence both in the environment and human body. The potential toxicity of these chemicals may pose risks to human health. Statewide biomonitoring data is needed to establish a baseline of exposure and to identify the subpopulations at risk. The NJ Department of Health (NJDOH) conducted a statewide NJ Biomonitoring (NJBM) study for PFAS utilizing a cost-effective sampling approach, i.e. acquiring remnant sera from both clinical laboratories and blood banks across NJ. This convenience sampling approach was adopted as an alternative to a costly and labor-intensive probability-based population sampling. One thousand and thirty human sera were collected from NJ adults between 20 and 74 years of age from 2016 to 2018, with additional information of county, sex, and age. The serum collection was demographically and geographically dispersed across four seasons. Twelve PFAS analytes were measured for the specimens collected. The data were post-stratified by county, sex, and age groups (20–39, 40–59, and 60–74 years old). Stratified individual sample weights were developed and used to estimate population means, compare least-squared mean differences, and examine contributing variables. Geometric means (GMs) and percentiles with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of the target analytes are presented, providing preliminary baselines of the statewide PFAS exposure for NJ adults. PFOA, PFNA, PFHxS, and PFOS were selected for in-depth analyses because their GMs were greater than 0.5 ng/mL and they were detected over 99% in study population. Subjects from this study had higher serum levels of PFOA, PFNA, and PFHxS compared to the general U.S. population reported by the latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES in 2015–2016). However, the distributions of PFOA, PFNA, PFHxS, and PFOS across sex and age groups were consistent with the patterns found in NHANES, i.e. all differed by sex and age group. Further sex and age stratification showed significantly lower concentrations of the 4 analytes in younger females (20–59 years old) than in older females (60–74 years old) and males (20–74 years old). Future research is needed to identify PFAS exposure sources and to develop effective intervention strategies. Continuing PFAS biomonitoring using population sampling is recommended for tracking trends and better identifying subpopulations at risk.



• This study provides preliminary statewide biomonitoring data of PFAS for NJ adults.

• New Jersey adults had higher PFOA, PFNA, and PFHxS levels than US adults.

• PFAS levels varied by sex and age, notably lower levels in females (20–59).

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