PFAS and Human Health
A State-of-the-Science Report to Assist in the Understanding of Human Exposures to PFAS and Related Health Concerns
Most people have some form of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their blood, particularly PFOS and PFOA. While evidence indicates that exposure to certain PFAS are associated with human health effects, the available information focuses primarily on a small subset of the 4,000+ compounds.
This white paper provides a brief summary of the state of knowledge surrounding PFAS and human health, identifies the gaps in understanding we still face and recommends steps needed to fill these gaps.
Populations are exposed to PFAS through numerous pathways, including ingestion, dermal contact and inhalation as a result of exposures to a variety of substances containing PFAS, such as food, water, dust, soil and consumer products.
Considerable epidemiological research has been conducted to understand the possible adverse health effects of PFAS in humans. That includes immunological, developmental or reproductive, hepatic, hormonal and carcinogenic effects.
Understanding exposures to harmful chemicals and relationships between exposures and health effects is often best accomplished using biomarkers. The primary biomarker of PFAS exposure in humans is serum or whole-blood PFAS concentration.
There is still 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 of these issues is paramount to helping to protect human health.
The half-life of PFAS in humans varies widely, from several days to more than 15 years, depending on which PFAS. Longer chain chemicals have been found to be the most persistent. Longer half-lives can impact bioaccumulation and potentially related health effects.
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