Archives for category: PFOS

From Reuters:

High blood levels of a man-made chemical used in non-stick coatings were associated with a raised risk of arthritis in a large new study of adults exposed to tainted drinking water.

Researchers found that people with the highest levels of perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) in their blood were up to 40 percent more likely to develop arthritis than people with lower blood levels more typical of the general U.S. population.

Dr. Kim Innes of the School of Medicine at West Virginia University and colleagues used data on nearly 50,000 adults living in areas of Ohio and West Virginia where a chemical plant had contaminated water supplies with PFOA and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), both chemicals widely used in non-stick and stain-resistant coatings.

Both chemicals are “persistent organic pollutants,” meaning they remain in the environment and in the human body for years. Both have also been shown to affect human and animal immune systems and metabolism, including functions such as inflammation that are linked with arthritis.

Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease characterized by pain, stiffness and bone damage that affects some 27 million Americans.

To see whether there was a connection between the chemicals and arthritis risk, Innes’ team looked at people being monitored as part of a larger effort known as the C8 Science Panel, established following the settlement of a 2001 class-action lawsuit against DuPont Chemical.

A DuPont plant in Washington, West Virginia, released PFOA, PFOS and other chemicals into the air, which eventually contaminated drinking water.

Overall, nearly 8 percent of the study participants were found to have arthritis. People with the top-25 percent highest blood levels of PFOA were about 20 percent more likely to have arthritis than people in the bottom-25 percent.

Once the researchers adjusted for a variety of factors including, age, weight, socioeconomic status, gender and military service, the people with the highest PFOA blood levels were 40 percent more likely to develop arthritis than those with the lowest levels.

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From Chemical & Engineering News:

Two perfluorinated chemicals are linked to a delayed onset of puberty, according to a study of nearly 6,000 children living near a chemical plant (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es1038694).

Since 1951, a DuPont plant near Parkersburg, W. Va., has released perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a surfactant used in Teflon production, into the air and the nearby Ohio River. As a result, people living in the area have abnormally high levels of this compound in their blood.

In 2001, residents of the Mid-Ohio River Valley filed a class-action lawsuit against DuPont, alleging health problems that arose from drinking contaminated water. The company settled the lawsuit and agreed to fund research to determine whether PFOA exposure caused measurable health changes. Scientists had previously shown—in animals only—that PFOA causes cancer and disrupts sexual development.

Tony Fletcher, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, sits on the scientific advisory panel established by the settlement. He wanted to know if PFOA alters sexual development in humans as it does in animals.

In 2005 and 2006, in research funded by the settlement, health care workers collected blood and medical histories from 69,030 people who lived in contaminated water districts surrounding the chemical plant. Fletcher and his colleagues analyzed data gathered from 3,067 boys and 2,931 girls between the ages of 8 and 18. They found that the median PFOA serum concentration was 26 ng/mL for boys and 20 ng/mL for girls. Both concentrations were much higher than the level in the general U.S. population, 4.2 ng/mL. The researchers also examined serum levels of a related chemical that has also been linked to altered timing of sexual maturation in animals. That chemical is perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), which was not produced by the DuPont plant. The median level of PFOS in the children was only slightly higher than the national average.

To determine the age at which the children reached puberty, the researchers used a questionnaire and measured blood levels of sex hormones. When the investigators compared serum PFOA or PFOS levels with the age of onset of puberty, they found that girls with high concentrations of PFOA started puberty later than girls with low concentrations did. Meanwhile, both boys and girls with high levels of PFOS matured later than their low-concentration peers did. For both chemicals, the median delays in puberty were about 4 to 6 months—a significant change, but one that’s unlikely to cause health problems, Fletcher says.

“These results were surprising because many endocrine disrupters lead to earlier puberty rather than delayed puberty,” he says. Previous studies of the developmental effects of perfluorochemicals have used only small groups of people and produced inconclusive results, Fletcher says. But he hopes that his study, the largest yet to examine the effects of PFOA and PFOS on puberty in humans, will pave the way for studies of other populations exposed to perfluorochemicals early in life.

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