Perfluorinated Substances in Human Food and Other Sources of Human Exposure

Laboratory for Ecophysiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, 2020 Antwerp, Belgium.
Reviews of environmental contamination and toxicology (Impact Factor: 3.63). 01/2010; 208:179-215. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4419-6880-7_4
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The widespread distribution and degradation of PFCs in the environment results in a very complex exposure pattern, which makes it difficult to define the relative contribution to human exposure from different exposure pathways. The present review is designed to provide an overview of the existing data on levels of PFCs measured in the human diet and in drinking water. Data on levels of PFCs in the human diet are rather scarce, but the level in the fish appear to be well documented. Among PFCs, PFOS and PFOA are the best studied compounds in fish from both experimental and monitoring studies. Recently, the number of publications that address other PFCs has increased, but the total number available is still limited. In general, we discovered that care should be exercised when using the reviewed data, because, in the majority of publications, quality control and/or details on analysis are, at least partly, lacking. It has been well documented that PFOA and PFOS have the potential to accumulate in fish and concentrations up to 7 and 170 ng/g wwt, respectively in edible fish species have been found. PFOS is the most crucial and prominent compound identified, followed by the PFOA. Also, in aquatic invertebrate such as shrimps, mussels, clams, and oysters, high PFOS levels have been reported (up to 387 ng/g wwt). However in most publications PFC level reported in molluscs were less than 1 ng/g wwt. Positive correlations were found between PFC body burden and self reported fish consumption. In recognition of the potential for human exposure to PFCs via fish consumption, the Minnesota Department of Health has recently issued fish consumption advisories for contaminated sections of the Mississippi River. It is interesting to note that 79% of the reviewed publications on PFCs in the whole fish homogenates exceed the that threshold. Moreover, five of the PFC concentration reported in muscles tissue exceeded the advisory level of 38 ng/g wwt. Even though several authors concluded that consumption of contaminated food and drinking water constitutes the major exposure pathway for humans, only a few reports on PFCs in composite food exist. Food can be contaminated in an indirect way, because PFCs are widely used in food-packaging coatings and cooking materials. On the other hand, PFCs can also enter food organisms via environmental routes such as inhalation or adsorption from air. In a few studies, composite samples, duplicate diet samples, or other food items were analyzed for several PFCs, PFOS and PFOA, PFHpA, PFHxA, and PFHxS were meAsured and displayed concentrations ranging from-detected up to 15 ng/g wwt. In one study, a very high PFOA concentration of 118 ng/g were reported, but overall, PFC levels are below 10 ng/g wwt. It is important to note that, among all studies reviewed, PFCs were found in a maximum of 50% of the analyzed samples and generally only in 10% or less of samples analyzed. In contrast to what is observed in fish and other food items PFOA levels in drinking water (ND - 50 ng/L) and other PFCs (1-3 ng/L). In one study, extremely high values (519 ng/L) were measured in drinking water of a contaminated area in the Ruhr region. In Spain, bottled water was analyzed and four PFCs (PFOA, PFNA,PFDA and PFHpA) were found at low levels (<1 ng/L). Because of higher levels found in drinking water at several locations, some provisional drinking water guideline values for PFOS and PFOA have already been established, e.g., in the UK, Bavaria, and Minnesota. Since PFCs are present both in food and drinking water, Tolerable Daily Intake values for PFOS and PFOA have also been proposed by several institutes in Europe and in the USA. The ingestion of dust through hand-to-mouth transfer from indoor house dust can also be a potential source of PFC exposure, especially for toddlers and children. In publications on PFCs in indoor dust, the mean PFOS and PFOA levels varied between 39 and 1,200 ng/g and between 11 and 220 ng/g, respectively. Overall, it is clear that there is still lack of PFC exposure data for food and beverages, which renders the assessment of the contribution of the diet to total human PFC exposure uncertain. It is, therefore, appropriate that several scientific projects have recently been launched that addresses the assessment of human exposure to PFCs and related compounds from dietary sources.

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