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PFOA and PFOS Detected in Newborns

An analysis of nearly 300 umbilical cord blood samples led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that //newborn babies are exposed to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) while in the womb. PFOS and PFOA are polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs)—ubiquitous man-made chemicals used in a variety of consumer products, including as a protective coating on food-contact packaging, textiles and carpets, and in the manufacturing of insecticides. The health impact from exposure to these compounds is not fully known, but previous studies found these compounds could cause tumors and developmental toxicity in laboratory animals at doses much higher than those observed in the Hopkins study.

The analysis conducted in Baltimore, Md., detected PFOS in 99 percent of the infant samples examined and PFOA in 100 percent of those examined. The results are published in the April 20, 2007, online edition of the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Some of the study’s findings were previously reported at the Society of Toxicology workshop held in February and at the International Conference on Environmental Epidemiology and Exposure held last September.

“When we began this research we weren’t sure what we would find, because previously there was very little information about fetal exposure to PFOS and PFOA. Even though these chemicals are not bioaccumulative in fat, they are very persistent, which probably accounts for their presence in nearly every newborn,” said Benjamin Apelberg, PhD, lead author of the study and a research associate in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. Apelberg conducted this work as part of his doctoral research.

The researchers analyzed cord serum from 299 newborns delivered at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore between 2004 and 2005. The samples were tested for the presence of PFOS and PFOA and eight other polyfluoroalkyl compounds. P
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