Demographic, life-style and physiological determinants of serum per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) concentrations in a national cross-sectional survey of Swedish adolescents

By Jennifer Nyström, Jonathan P Benskin, Merle Plassmann, Oskar Sandblom, Anders Glynn, Erik Lampa, Irina Gyllenhammar, Lotta Moraeus, and Sanna Lignell
Environ Res
January 17, 2022
DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.112674

PER: and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) may affect adolescent health, yet factors related to PFAS concentrations in serum are poorly understood. We studied demographic, life-style and physiological determinants of serum PFAS concentrations in Swedish adolescents from a nation-wide survey, Riksmaten Adolescents 2016-17 (RMA, age 10-21 years, n = 1098). Serum samples were analyzed for 42 PFAS, using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The cumulative probability model was used to estimate associations between serum PFAS and determinants, using ordinal logistic regression. Legacy linear (lin-) perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorononaoic acid (PFNA), perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnDA), lin-perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS) and lin-/branched (br-) perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) were quantifiable in ≥70% of the samples. The emerging PFAS 9-chlorohexanedecafluoro-3-oxanone-1-sulfonic acid (9Cl-PF3ONS) was quantified in 5.4% of the samples, suggesting initiation of long-range transport far from production sites. Median concentrations of all legacy PFAS were <2 ng/g serum, with a few participants having very high (>100 ng/g serum) lin-PFHxS and lin-/br-PFOS concentrations due to previous high exposure from PFAS-contaminated drinking water. Legacy PFAS exposure was strongly associated with birth country of the participants and their mothers. 2-fold higher estimated adjusted mean (EAM) concentrations were seen among high income country participants with mothers from high income countries than among low/lower-middle income country participants with mothers from the same category. Menstruating females had lower lin-PFOA and br-PFOS EAM concentrations than those who were not. Iron status (plasma ferritin) among females may be a marker of intensity of menstrual bleeding, but it was not significantly associated with legacy PFAS concentrations among females. Further studies are needed to determine how physiological changes occurring around menstruation affect the toxicokinetics of PFAS in females. In conclusion, PFAS are pollutants of the industrialized world and some of the identified determinants may be overlooked confounders/effect modifiers that should be included in future PFAS/health studies among adolescents.

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