Every child examined was contaminated with perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), and 86% of the 1,109 blood plasma samples taken from children and adolescents between 3 and 17 years old contained perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Those are the results of an assessment of the representative German environmental study on the health of children and adolescents (GerES V) published in the July issue of the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health.
To some extent, the concentrations in the blood plasma samples that were examined were greater than the limits defined by the Commission on Human Biomonitoring (HBM) of the German Environment Agency (UBA in its German abbreviation). More than every fifth sample exceeded the HBM value. In other words, the hazardous chemical reached a concentration at which the current level of knowledge cannot preclude harmful effects on health.
The PFAS group of chemicals covers more than 4,700 different substances. That’s why the UBA does not regard a ban on individual PFAS as sensible and is working with other agencies from Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway to develop an EU-wide ban as part of REACH. “Perflouro chemicals don’t have much of a future for me. Only products and materials that provide truly necessary services for the protection of health (like medical devices or protective clothing for fire brigades), should be allowed to be used,” says Dirk Messner, president of the UBA in the press release (German only)
In fact, PFAS are sprayed in fire extinguishing foams and widely used in the manufacture of outdoor clothing, shoes, work clothing, rugs, and domestic textiles because they repel soil, oil, and water. They can also be used as a coating for paper products like hamburger packaging, adhesive labels, and coffee mugs.
Because PFAS do not degrade, they accumulate in the food chain. They adhere to particulates and spread to remote areas through water and air. They have even been found in the Arctic and alpine lakes – far removed from industrial production. The current issue of the UBA magazine offers more information: PFAS Have Come to Stay (German only).
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