Alarming Discovery: 1 in 5 Children Exceed Safety Limits for Persistent Chemicals

by Santiago Fernandez
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PFAS contamination

New Research Reveals: Synthetic chemicals referred to as PFAS, commonly found in various consumer products, pose significant health risks, with one study indicating that 22% of children have surpassed safe exposure levels.

PFAS, synthetic substances present in everyday consumer goods, have been found to accumulate in both the environment and the human body, leading to various health issues, including reduced vaccine response in children and an elevated risk of certain types of cancer. A study conducted by the University of Bergen showed that 22% of the children sampled had PFAS levels exceeding the established safety limits, corroborating findings from similar research in other European studies.

Also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS are artificially produced chemicals commonly used in clothing, makeup, paints, and non-stick cookware. Their remarkable persistence in the environment leads to the accumulation of various PFAS types within the human body, primarily through contaminated food and drinking water.

Numerous adverse health effects have been associated with PFAS exposure, including reduced vaccine response in children, lower birth weight, and specific forms of cancer. In 2020, the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) established the safety limit based on the reduced vaccine response in children. In response to these alarming findings, several European countries are now collaboratively working to restrict the production and usage of all PFAS within the continent.

The University of Bergen conducted the “Bergen Growth Study 2” in 2016, where researchers collected blood samples from children aged 6-16 years to analyze PFAS levels. Four PFAS were found in all children, and disturbingly, 22% of the children exhibited PFAS levels exceeding the safety limits set by EFSA, highlighting the potential risks to their health. These results align with findings from other European and Norwegian studies.

Reference: “Levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Norwegian children stratified by age and sex – Data from the Bergen Growth Study 2” by Ingvild Halsør Forthun, Mathieu Roelants, Line Småstuen Haug, Helle Katrine Knutsen, Lawrence M. Schell, Astanand Jugessur, Robert Bjerknes, Azemira Sabaredzovic, Ingvild Særvold Bruserud and Petur Benedikt Juliusson, 7 June 2023, International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health.
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2023.114199

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about PFAS contamination

What are PFAS, and where are they found?

PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are synthetic chemicals used in various consumer goods like clothing, makeup, paints, and non-stick cookware. They can accumulate in nature and humans due to their resistance to breaking down.

What health risks do PFAS pose, especially for children?

PFAS exposure has been associated with several health problems, particularly in children. These risks include reduced vaccine response, lower birth weight, and an elevated risk of certain types of cancer.

What did the University of Bergen study reveal about PFAS levels in children?

The study conducted by the University of Bergen found that 22% of the sampled children had PFAS levels exceeding the safety limits set by the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA).

How do people get exposed to PFAS?

The primary avenues of PFAS exposure for people are through tainted food and contaminated drinking water, as these chemicals can enter the food chain and water sources.

What is being done to address the issue of PFAS contamination?

In response to the alarming findings, several European countries are collaborating to restrict the production and use of all PFAS within the continent to mitigate health and environmental risks.

More about PFAS contamination

  • University of Bergen Study: “Levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Norwegian children stratified by age and sex – Data from the Bergen Growth Study 2”
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2023.114199
  • European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) – Official Website: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/

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