Demographic and exposure characteristics as predictors of serum per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) levels - A community-level biomonitoring project in Pennsylvania

By Anil S Nair, Ma Zhen-Qiang, Sharon M Watkins, and Susan S Wood
Int J Hyg Environ Health
October 13, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2020.113631

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are widely used in industrial and consumer products and have been linked to various adverse health effects. Communities near two former military bases in Pennsylvania were exposed to PFAS through contaminated drinking water for several decades. The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) conducted biomonitoring of 235 randomly selected community members living in four public water system (PWS) service areas to evaluate a toolkit developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). DOH also collected data on participants' demographics, exposure history and self-reported health conditions. Serum PFAS levels were compared with the national averages for 2013-2014 and their relationships with demographic and exposure characteristics were analyzed. Of the 11 PFASs analyzed for, only perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS) and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) were consistently detected in the serum samples. The average levels of PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS and PFNA among the study participants were 3.13, 10.24, 6.64 and 0.74 μg per liter (μg/L), respectively. Overall, 75, 81, 94 and 59 percent of the study participants had levels exceeding the national average for PFOA (1.94 μg/L), PFOS (4.99 μg/L), PFHxS (1.35 μg/L) and PFNA (0.66 μg/L), respectively. Results indicated associations between serum levels of some PFAS compounds and sex, age, employment in the study area, PWS area, quantity of daily tap water consumption, and length of residence in the study area.

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