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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in children’s serum and contribution from PFAA-contaminated drinking water

Gyllenhammar, Irina; Benskin, Jonathan P.; Sandblom, Oskar; Berger, Urs; Ahrens, Lutz; Lignell, Sanna; Wiberg, Karin; Glynn, Anders


We investigated associations between serum perfluoroalkyl acid (PFAA) concentrations in children aged 4, 8, and 12 years (sampled in 2008-2015; n = 57, 55, and 119, respectively) and exposure via placental transfer, breastfeeding, and ingestion of PFAA-contaminated drinking water. Sampling took place in Uppsala County, Sweden, where the drinking water has been historically contaminated with perfluorobutanesulfonate (PFBS), perfluorohexanesulfonate (PFHxS), perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), perfluoroheptanoate (PFHpA), and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA). PFOS showed the highest median concentrations in serum (3.8-5.3 ng g(-1) serum), followed by PFHxS (1.6-5.0 ng g(-1) serum), PFOA (2.0-2.5 ng g(-1) serum), and perfluorononanoate (PFNA) (0.59-0.69 ng g(-1) serum) in children. Including all children, serum PFOA, PFHxS, and PFOS concentrations (adjusted mean), respectively, per unit (ng g(-1) serum) of increase in the maternal serum level (at delivery), the associations being strongest for 4 year-old children. PFHxS and PFOS significantly increased 3.9 and 3.8%, respectively, per month of nursing, with the highest increase for 4 year-olds. PFOA, PFBS, PFHxS, and PFOS increased 1.2, 207, 7.4, and 0.93%, respectively, per month of cumulative drinking water exposure. Early life exposure to PFOA, PFHxS, and PFOS is an important determinant of serum concentrations in children, with the strongest influence on younger ages. Drinking water with low to moderate PFBS, PFHxS, PFOS, and PFOA contamination is an important source of exposure for children with background exposure from other sources.


Early-life exposure; Perfluorinated compunds; Perfluorooctane sulfonate; Polyfluoroalkyl compunds; Placental transfer; postnatal exposure; prenatal exposure; temporal trend; fetal growth; human milk; drinking water

Published in

Environmental Science and Technology
2019, volume: 53, number: 19, pages: 11447−11457

Authors' information

Gyllenhammar, Irina
National Food Agency
Benskin, Jonathan P.
Stockholm University
Sandblom, Oskar
Stockholm University
Berger, Urs
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Lignell, Sanna
National Food Agency
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG6 Clean water and sanitation
SDG3 Good health and well-being

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences

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