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J Environ Monit. 2010 Jun;12(6):1355-61. doi: 10.1039/b924420d. Epub 2010 Apr 28.

Perfluorinated compounds in maternal serum and cord blood from selected areas of South Africa: results of a pilot study.

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Department of Community Medicine, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway.


There is limited information about both environmental and human perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) concentrations in the southern hemisphere, and for the first time, concentrations of these compounds are reported in maternal serum and cord blood of South African women. The majority of the participants were of African Black ethnicity, with a similar socioeconomic status. In maternal serum perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was found to be the most abundant PFC (1.6 ng mL(-1)), followed by perfluorooctanoate (PFOA: 1.3 ng mL(-1)) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS: 0.5 ng mL(-1)); however, in cord blood PFOA was the most abundant compound (1.3 ng mL(-1)) followed by PFOS (0.7 ng mL(-1)) and PFHxS (0.3 ng mL(-1)). Linear PFOS constituted 58% of the sum of PFOS, comparable with a reported percentage from Australia. Differences in PFC concentrations between communities were found, with the highest concentrations in urban and semi-urban areas. The median maternal PFOS concentration was lower than has been reported in other studies, whereas the PFOA concentration was the same. This clearly indicates that the exposure pathway is different from the western world. Significant differences in housing quality were observed and the urban and sub-urban community had the highest living and housing standards. Possible exposure pathways could be different from those elucidated in the western world with the exception of the urban community in our study that showed higher living standards in general and easier access to modern consumer products.

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