Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in children’s serum and contribution from PFAA contaminated drinking water

By Irina Gyllenhammar, Jonathan P. Benskin, Oskar Sandblom, Urs Berger, Lutz Ahrens, Sanna Lignell, Karin Wiberg, and Anders Glynn
ACS Pub.
September 10, 2019
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b01746


We investigated associations between serum perfluoroalkyl acid (PFAA) concentrations in children aged 4, 8, and 12 years (sampled in 2008-2015; n=57, 55, and 119, respectively) and exposure via placental transfer, breast-feeding, and ingestion of PFAA-contaminated drinking water. Sampling took place in Uppsala County, Sweden, where the drinking water has been historically contaminated with perfluorobutanesulfonate (PFBS), perfluorohexanesulfonate (PFHxS), perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), perfluoroheptanoate (PFHpA), and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA). PFOS showed the highest median concentrations in serum (3.8-5.3 ng g-1 serum) followed by PFHxS (1.6-5.0 ng g-1 serum), PFOA (2.0-2.5 ng g-1 serum), and perfluorononanoate (PFNA) (0.59-0.69 ng g-1 serum) in children. Including all children, serum PFOA, PFHxS, and PFOS concentrations in children increased 10%, 10%, and 1.3% (adjusted mean), respectively, per unit (ng g-1 serum) of increase in maternal serum level (at delivery), the associations being strongest for 4-year-old children. PFHxS and PFOS significantly increased 3.9% and 3.8%, respectively, per month of nursing, with the highest increase for 4-year-olds. PFOA, PFBS, PFHxS, and PFOS increased 1.2%, 207%, 7.4%, and 0.93%, respectively, per month of cumulative drinking water exposure. Early life exposure to PFOA, PFHxS, and PFOS is an important determinant of serum concentrations in children, with the strongest influence on younger ages. Drinking water with low to moderate PFBS, PFHxS, PFOS, and PFOA contamination is an important source of exposure for children with background exposure from other sources.

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