International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health

Tanner, Eva M., Michael S. Bloom*, Qian Wu, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Recai M. Yucel*, Srishti Shrestha, and Edward F. Fitzgerald



Purpose: Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are environmentally persistent amphiphilic compounds. Exposure to two PFASs, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is linked to specific occupations and industries. This study examines the contribution of past occupational PFAS exposure to serum PFOS and PFOA levels among 154 older adults in New York State. Methods: Serum PFOS and PFOA levels were compared to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Potential occupational exposure to any PFAS was determined from work histories, reviewed by an industrial hygienist, and assessed in relation to current serum PFOS and PFOA levels using exposure probability, duration and cumulative exposure. Results: We observed 25% higher serum PFOS and 80% higher PFOA levels in study participants compared to NHANES. No participants reported PFAS chemical manufacturing work, but n = 68 reported work in occupations and industries known to use PFASs. We found that participants with high cumulative workplace exposure had 34% higher serum PFOS levels compared to participants without occupational exposure, adjusted for age, sex and income. Serum PFOS levels were 26% higher for participants with longer occupational exposure durations. The probability of occupational PFAS exposure metric was not associated with serum PFOS. Serum PFOA was not associated with any measure of occupational exposure. Conclusion: Occupational exposure may contribute to total PFOS body burden in this study population, even among workers not directly involved in manufacturing PFASs. PFAS exposure assessments should evaluate the workplace as a potential source, even when workplace exposures are assumed to be low or moderate.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates, Affiliates, and Staff