Influence of Perfluoroalkyl Substances on Occurrence of Coronavirus Disease 2019

By Zygmunt F Dembek and Robert A Lordo
Int J Environ Res Public Health
May 24, 2022
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph19095375

Epidemiologic evidence indicates exposure to polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) influences immunosuppression, with diminished vaccination response. The relationship between PFAS blood levels and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) occurrence by age warrants further examination. This assessment identified blood PFAS exposure levels in discrete populations. Recent PFAS population studies summarizing age and gender results were identified and included. Geographically corresponding COVID-19 incidence data were determined for selected counties in North Carolina (NC) and Ohio (OH), and the state of New Jersey (NJ). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 databases were accessed for national incidence data by age groupings. We assessed associations between blood PFAS concentrations, COVID-19 incidence rates, and key demographic characteristics, within subpopulations. COVID-19 incidence counts and blood PFAS concentration were obtained for each age group, along with estimated U.S. Census total population. A general trend observed is higher PFAS levels in older age groups. Younger age groups contained fewer COVID-19 cases. Global COVID-19 mortality is highest in elderly populations with hospitalization and death greatly increasing from age 50. PFAS exposures occurring early in life may cause deleterious health effects later in life, including decreased antibody response and reduced disease resistance. Highest levels of both PFAS exposure and COVID-19 were found in the oldest populations. While this does not determine causality, such associations should help promote further study.

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