ATSDR Publishes Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls

People can be exposed to PFAs in the air; in indoor dust, food, and water; and in some home products. The main sources of exposure to PFAs, such as PFOA and PFOS, are usually from eating food and drinking water that has these chemicals.

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has published a draft toxicological profile for perfluoroalkyls (PFAs), which are a group of man-made chemicals that are used to protect products such as carpet and fabric, as a coating for paper and cardboard packaging, and in some fire-fighting foams. Such profiles characterize the toxicology and adverse health effects information for toxic substances; they are peer-reviewed.

ATSDR has also posted a two-page information sheet, the ToxFAQs™, that is helpful.

Chemicals that are PFAs include:

  • perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS)
  • perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)
  • perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS)
  • perfluordecanoic acid (PFDeA)

The two PFAs made in the largest amounts in the United States were PFOA and PFOS, but most companies have stopped making those two chemicals, according to the agency.

PFAs can be found in air, soil, and water. They break down very slowly in air within days or weeks, but then fall to the ground where they can enter water or soil. PFAs don't break down in water or soil and may be carried over great distances by wind or rain.

The ToxFAQs says research suggests certain PFAs may raise cholesterol levels, decrease how well the body responds to vaccines, decrease fertility in women, lower infant birth weight (although the decrease is small and may not affect the infant's health).

People can be exposed to PFAs in the air; in indoor dust, food, and water; and in some home products. The main sources of exposure to PFAs, such as PFOA and PFOS, are usually from eating food and drinking water that has these chemicals.

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