On June 1, 2020, scientists from the German Environment Agency (UBA) published an article in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health presenting results of a biomonitoring survey quantifying the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in blood plasma of children and adolescents in Germany. The study was carried out in 2014-2017 as part of the 5th cycle of the German Environmental Survey (GerES V), which focused on PFAS exposure of children and adolescents aged 3-17 years old. Twelve PFAS were analyzed in 1,109 blood plasma samples, and the highest mean concentrations were found for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS; CAS 1763-23-1) at 2.49 ng/mL, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA; CAS 335-67-1) at 1.12 ng/mL, and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS; CAS 355-46-4) at 0.36 ng/mL. The concentrations for all the other PFAS were much lower. 100% of all children in the study had measurable levels of PFOS and 86% had measurable levels of PFOA.
The authors write that “the results document a still considerable exposure of the young generation to the phased out chemicals PFOS and PFOA” and note that the levels “vary substantially” between individuals and could be influenced by different and multiple exposure sources. While further research is needed to understand the different exposure sources, the authors believe the results already emphasize “the need for an effective and sustainable regulation of PFAS as a whole.”
Commenting in the press release for the study, Dirk Messner, President of UBA, said “which damages the long-lived PFAS can cause in the environment in the long-term is often still unexplored. We are therefore trying, together with other European countries, to ban these substances in the EU as far as possible. Out of precaution, this is the right step.”
UBA (July 2, 2020). “Kinder und Jugendliche haben zu viel PFAS im Blut.” (in German)
UBA (July 2, 2020). “Schwerpunkt 1-2020: PFAS. Gekommen, um zu bleiben.” (in German)
Eleanor Hawke (July 23, 2020). “PFAS in German children: Human biomonitoring data highlight urgent need for group restriction.” Chem Trust
Duffek, A et al. (June 2, 2020). “Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in blood plasma – Results of the German Environmental Survey for children and adolescents 2014–2017 (GerES V).” International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health.