Prevalence and Implications of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Settled Dust

By Tina Savvaides, Jeremy P Koelmel, Yakun Zhou, Elizabeth Z Lin, Paul Stelben, Juan J Aristizabal-Henao, John A Bowden, and Krystal J Godri Pollitt
Curr Environ Health Rep
January 10, 2022
DOI: 10.1007/s40572-021-00326-4

Purpose Of Review

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of more than 7,000 fluorinated compounds. The carbon-fluorine bond of PFAS provides desirable hydrophobic and oleophobic properties and stability that has led to widespread usage in consumer products and industrial applications. The strength of the carbon-fluorine bond also prevents appreciable degradation once released into the environment. Consequently, various household products can release volatile and nonvolatile PFAS into the indoor environment that often concentrate in dust. We discuss the diversity of PFAS in settled dust, emission sources of these chemicals, changes in PFAS profiles in dust over the past century, and the implications for human health.

Recent Findings

Sources of PFAS found in dust include building materials and furnishings and consumer products used in typical indoor spaces. Daycares and workplaces are emphasized as locations with widespread exposure due to the presence of treated carpeting and industrial-strength cleaners. Comparison and interpretation of findings across studies are complicated by the different ways in which PFAS are screened across studies. We further discuss recent developments in non-targeted software for the comprehensive annotation of PFAS in indoor dust and emphasize the need for comprehensive and harmonized analytical workflows. We highlight the detection and diversity of PFAS in settled dust collected from various indoor spaces, including locations with vulnerable subpopulations. There are opportunities for future research to leverage settled dust as a sentinel environmental matrix to evaluate the link between inhalation and ingestion routes of PFAS exposure to adverse health.

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