2023 journal article

Factors associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) serum concentrations in residents of New Hanover County, North Carolina: The GenX exposure study


By: M. Cuffney n , A. Wilkie n, N. Kotlarz n, D. Knappe n , C. Lea  n, D. Collier n, J. Dewitt n, J. Hoppin n 

co-author countries: United States of America πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
author keywords: Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); Fluoroethers; Contaminated drinking water; Environmental exposure predictors
Source: Web Of Science
Added: October 30, 2023

In 2017, people living in New Hanover County, North Carolina, learned that for ∼40 years they were unknowingly exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) through drinking water sourced by the Cape Fear River. Using data from the GenX Exposure Study, which measured serum PFAS levels in county residents, we aimed to understand questionnaire-measured factors associated with serum PFAS levels. Because most residents were served by the same municipal water source, we focused on surrogate factors of drinking water exposure that may contribute to variability in PFAS levels. Our analysis included 335 participants aged 6 and older. We included seven chemicals detected in β‰₯75% of the study population: four well-studied perfluoroalkyl acids (PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS) and three understudied fluoroethers (Nafion byproduct 2, PFO4DA, PFO5DoA). For each PFAS, we evaluated associations of variables with serum PFAS levels adjusting for key demographic characteristics. Additionally, we developed predictive models for each PFAS. We used years of residence in the lower Cape Fear Region as a surrogate for water consumption. Duration of drinking water exposure was associated with higher serum levels of all seven PFAS. Drinking municipal water treated by home filters or other sources of water (non-city) were associated with lower PFAS concentrations for all seven PFAS compared to drinking municipal water without additional filtration. Males had higher levels of well-studied PFAS, but there was no difference for fluoroethers. For six PFAS, the predictive models explained β‰₯30% of the variance in serum PFAS levels. While some factors were significantly associated with levels of individual PFAS, their relative importance to overall prediction was low, such as microwave popcorn consumption. Consistently, water consumption-related variables were important for both the association and predictive investigations. These analyses provide additional evidence that drinking water is a primary source for serum PFAS concentrations among New Hanover County residents.