Longitudinal trends in perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances among multiethnic midlife women from 1999 to 2011: The Study of Women′s Health Across the Nation

By Ning Dinga, Siobán D. Harlowa, Stuart Batterman, Bhramar Mukherjeed, Sung Kyun Park
Environ Int.
December 26, 2019
DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2019.105381


Limited information exists regarding longitudinal trends in midlife women’s exposure to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Further, little is known about how patterns of exposure differ by race/ethnicity and reproductive characteristics including parity and menopause.


We aimed to examine temporal variations in serum PFAS concentrations among midlife women from the Study of Women′s Health Across the Nation.


Serum concentrations of 11 PFAS homologues were measured in 75 White, Black and Chinese women with blood samples collected in 1999–2000, 2002–2003, 2005–2006, and 2009–2011. Rates of changes in PFAS concentrations were calculated assuming a first-order elimination model. Associations between PFAS concentrations and race/ethnicity, menstruation and parity were evaluated with linear mixed models, adjusting for age, body mass index and study site.


Serum concentrations of linear-chain perfluorooctanoic acid (n-PFOA), linear- and branched-chain perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (n-PFOS and sm-PFOS) decreased significantly (-6.0%, 95% CI: −8.3%, −3.6% per year for n-PFOA; −14.8%, 95% CI: −17.3%, −12.3% per year for n-PFOS; −16.9%, 95% CI: −19.1%, −14.6% per year for sm-PFOS); whereas perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) increased (16.0%, 95% CI: 10.6%, 21.6% per year). Detection rates of perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDeA) and perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUA) doubled. Temporal trends varied significantly by race/ethnicity. Chinese women tended to have consistently higher PFNA concentrations at each follow-up visit, compared with White and Black women. Serum PFHxS concentrations significantly decreased in White and Black women, but not in Chinese. Menstruating women consistently had lower concentrations. Parity was associated with lower concentrations at baseline but the differences between nulliparous and parous women became smaller over time.


Our results suggest longitudinal declines in serum concentrations of legacy PFAS and increases in serum concentrations of emerging compounds from 1999 to 2011 in midlife women. Temporal trends in PFAS concentrations are not uniform across race/ethnicity and parity groups.

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