Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Breast Milk: Concerning Trends for Current-Use PFAS

By Guomao Zheng, Erika Schreder, Jennifer C Dempsey, Nancy Uding, Valerie Chu, Gabriel Andres, Sheela Sathyanarayana, and Amina Salamova
Environ Sci Technol
May 17, 2021
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c06978

This is the first study in the last 15 years to analyze per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in breast milk collected from mothers ( = 50) in the United States, and our findings indicate that both legacy and current-use PFAS now contaminate breast milk, exposing nursing infants. Breast milk was analyzed for 39 PFAS, including 9 short-chain and 30 long-chain compounds, and 16 of these PFAS were detected in 4-100% of the samples. The ∑PFAS concentration in breast milk ranged from 52.0 to 1850 pg/mL with a median concentration of 121 pg/mL. Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) were the most abundant PFAS in these samples (medians 30.4 and 13.9 pg/mL, respectively). Two short-chain PFAS, including perfluoro--hexanoic acid (PFHxA, C6) and perfluoro--heptanoic acid (PFHpA, C7), were detected in most of the samples with median concentrations of 9.69 and 6.10 pg/mL, respectively. Analysis of the available breast milk PFAS data from around the world over the period of 1996-2019 showed that while the levels of the phased-out PFOS and PFOA have been declining with halving times of 8.1 and 17 years, respectively, the detection frequencies of current-use short-chain PFAS have been increasing with a doubling time of 4.1 years.

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