Household low pile carpet usage was associated with increased serum PFAS concentrations in 2005-2006
By Yachen Zhu, Annie Ro, and Scott M Bartell
February 9, 2021
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are ubiquitous in the serum of the general US population. Food, drinking water, consumer products, dust, and air have been assessed as PFAS exposure sources for humans. The effects of various types of carpeting on serum PFAS concentrations have been less studied, despite the known use of PFAS in stain-resistant carpet treatments.
This study aimed to examine the associations between serum PFAS concentrations and type of residential flooring among the general US population aged 12 years and older using the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
We used multiple linear regressions adjusted for complex survey design and relevant covariates to analyze the relations between serum PFAS concentrations and type of floor covering (smooth surface, low pile carpet, medium to high pile carpet, and combination of carpet and smooth surface), as well as other potential exposure factors. We used multiple imputation to address missing values.
We found significantly higher serum concentrations of perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) and 2-(N-methyl-perfluorooctane sulfonamido) acetic acid (MeFOSAA) in US residents residing in homes with low pile carpeting compared with those residing in homes with smooth surface. We concluded that among US residents aged 12 years and older residing in homes with low pile carpeting in the home in 2005-2006, on average 24% and 19% of the PFHxS and MeFOSAA body burdens, respectively, could be attributed to carpeting. We found associations between other types of floor covering (medium to high pile carpet, combination of carpet and smooth surface) and some PFAS concentrations compared with the smooth surface, but these results were less consistent and generally not statistically significant. Additionally, a group Wald Chi-squared test showed a significant result for PFOS, indicating different contributions of various types of flooring to PFOS serum concentration.
Our results are representative of the general US population at the time of the survey, and potentially informative regarding ongoing PFAS exposure from a variety of sources including carpeting.