Send to

Choose Destination
New Solut. 2015 Aug;25(2):147-63. doi: 10.1177/1048291115590506. Epub 2015 Jun 17.

Perfluorinated Alkyl Substances: Emerging Insights Into Health Risks.

Author information

Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, MA, USA


Perfluorinated alkyl substances have been in use for over sixty years. These highly stable substances were at first thought to be virtually inert and of low toxicity. Toxicity information slowly emerged on perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate. More than thirty years ago, early studies reported immunotoxicity and carcinogenicity effects. The substances were discovered in blood samples from exposed workers, then in the general population and in community water supplies near U.S. manufacturing plants. Only recently has research publication on perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate intensified. While the toxicology database is still far from complete, carcinogenicity and immunotoxicity now appear to be relevant risks at prevalent exposure levels. Existing drinking water limits are based on less complete evidence that was available before 2008 and may be more than 100-fold too high. As risk evaluations assume that untested effects do not require regulatory attention, the greatly underestimated health risks from perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate illustrate the public health implications of assuming the safety of incompletely tested industrial chemicals.


carcinogen; exposure limit; immunotoxicant; perfluorinated octanoic acid; perfluorooctane sulfonate; risk assessment

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center