5 Things to Know About PFAS and Human Health

The traits that make per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) good for consumer uses like nonstick coating and stain-resistant materials are the same that have made them linger in the environment and food sources. 

Because of the pervasive use and persistent nature of PFAS, there is widespread human exposure. 

Battelle dives right into this topic in our white paper PFAS and Human Health: A State-of-the-Science Report to Assist in the Understanding of Human Exposures to PFAS and Related Health Concerns

Request the white paper to review the full report. 
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Here are the top five things we think you should take away from our initial evaluation of PFAS and its impact on human health. 

  1. Most people in the U.S. have some form of PFAS in their blood, particularly perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS). The U.S. population’s average PFAS blood levels for PFOA are 1.56 parts per billion (ppb) and 4.72 ppb for PFOS. 

  2.  The half-life of PFAS in humans varies widely, from several days to more than 15 years, depending on which PFAS. Longer chain chemicals are the most persistent.

  3. There has been substantial research to understand the potential health effects associated with exposures to PFOA, PFOS and limited others. There are still significant gaps in knowledge for the class as a whole, which includes more than 4,000+ compounds.

  4. People are exposed to PFAS through three main pathways: ingestion, dermal contact and inhalation. Children and infants have additional exposure routes, including breast milk, in utero and crawling.

  5. The health effects most commonly studied and reported are immunological, developmental or reproductive, hepatic, hormonal and carcinogenic – basically everything from asthma to testicular cancer. 

There is progress to be made in the scientific community to fully understand the exposures to and health effects from PFAS. Closing these gaps in our understanding is paramount to helping protect human health. 

Some of these efforts will include:

  • Exposure assessment studies that map environmental exposures in water, soil and air against human agricultural practices and consumer products. 

  • Inclusion of additional PFAS and their new alternatives such as GenX chemicals and perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS).

  • Exposure assessment studies investigating all pathways of exposure across multiple cohorts in differently exposed populations. (There is particular need to investigate and understand the importance of different exposure pathways for infants and children.)

Battelle is part of the effort to address these critical gaps in the science surrounding PFAS and human health. From premier analytical laboratory capabilities to health-related data collection and expert analysis, we offer a suite of services and experts to better understand human exposure to PFAS and their impacts on human health.

Request the white paper to review the full report. 
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June 24, 2020
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