By: Christopher Sirota, CPCU
Key Takeaway: PFAS exposure may impact susceptibility to viruses such as COVID-19; a government study plans to investigate.
What is the number one environmental concern for US adults? Apparently, drinking water contamination is now their top concern, according to a 2021 Gallup poll that focused on the environment.
One potential contaminate may be a chemical from the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) group, also known as "forever chemicals;" in February 2020 we posted about testing for PFAS in drinking water in townships near Philadelphia, from both residential wells and municipal sources.
Experts reportedly continue to be concerned about the health effects of PFAS exposure, and PFAS disposal and mitigation methods, see the following posts for more details:
- EPA Issues Interim Guidance on PFAS Destruction or Disposal (Jan 25 2021)
- Recent Study Provides Some Insight on Human Exposure to PFAS (Aug 24 2020)
- PFAS Found in Fast Food Wrappers, but Not in EPA Reporting Requirements (Dec 16 2019)
- Concern Continues for PFAS in Food Packaging, Drinking Water and Food (Sep 16 2019)
Now, Circle of Blue, a group of environmental journalists, has reported that the US National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry plan to collaborate on a study to examine the potential effects of PFAS exposure and susceptibility to viruses.
According to the article, the government agencies will leverage a sample size of 3300 adults and 775 children that have had their blood tested for PFAS exposure; the sample population reportedly lived near several military bases where drinking water PFAS contamination was confirmed. The researchers will reportedly use a questionnaire to evaluate, in part, the potential effects of PFAS exposure in relation to viral diseases including COVID-19, influenza and pneumonia. Based on some previous studies, experts are reportedly concerned the PFAS exposure may be detrimental to the immune system. The article notes that a 2016 National Toxicological Program study indicated that exposure to two types of PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), was "presumed to be an immune hazard to humans" based on "33 human studies, 93 animal studies, and 27 in vitro/mechanistic studies."