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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2019 Aug 20. pii: S1438-4639(19)30441-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2019.07.012. [Epub ahead of print]

Sociodemographic and behavioral determinants of serum concentrations of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in a community highly exposed to aqueous film-forming foam contaminants in drinking water.

Author information

1
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, USA.
2
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, USA; Department of Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, USA.
3
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO, USA.
4
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Environmental Health, Atlanta, GA, USA.
5
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, USA. Electronic address: john.adgate@ucdenver.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a chemical class widely used in industrial and commercial applications because of their unique physical and chemical properties. Between 2013 and 2016 PFAS were detected in public water systems and private wells in El Paso County, Colorado. The contamination was likely due to aqueous film forming foams used at a nearby Air Force base.

OBJECTIVE:

To cross-sectionally describe the serum concentrations of PFAS in a highly exposed community, estimate associations with drinking water source, and explore potential demographic and behavioral predictors.

METHODS:

In June 2018, serum PFAS concentrations were quantified and questionnaires administered in 213 non-smoking adult (ages 19-93) participants residing in three affected water districts. Twenty PFAS were quantified and those detected in >50% of participants were analyzed: perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), perfluorononanoate (PFNA) and perfluoroheptane sulfonate (PFHpS). Unadjusted associations were estimated between serum PFAS concentrations and several predictors, including water consumption, demographics, personal behaviors and employment. A multiple linear regression model estimated adjusted associations with smoking history.

RESULTS:

Study participants' median PFHxS serum concentration (14.8 ng/mL) was approximately 12 times as high as the U.S. national average. Median serum concentrations for PFOS, PFOA, PFNA and PFHpS were 9.7 ng/mL, 3.0 ng/mL, 0.4 ng/mL and 0.2 ng/mL, respectively. Determinants of PFHxS serum concentrations were water district of residence, frequency of bottled water consumption, age, race/ethnicity, and smoking history. Determinants of serum concentrations for the other four PFAS evaluated included: water district of residence, bottled water consumption, age, sex, race/ethnicity, smoking history, and firefighter or military employment.

CONCLUSIONS:

Determinants of serum concentrations for multiple PFAS, including PFHxS, included water district of residence and frequency of bottled water consumption. Participants' dominant PFAS exposure route was likely consumption of PFAS-contaminated water, but certain demographic and behavioral characteristics also predicted serum concentrations.

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