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Issue 2, 2013
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The impact of PFOS on health in the general population: a review

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Perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS) is a persistent organic pollutant that is toxic, bioaccumulative and undergoes wide transportation across all environmental media. It has been widely detected in environmental samples but there is limited information about the health effects on humans from environmental exposure. This paper presents the findings of a review of the literature on the impact of PFOS on the health of the general population. Fifteen relevant epidemiological studies were identified that looked at the association between human PFOS exposure and a range of health related outcomes. Small but statistically significant associations have been reported with PFOS and total cholesterol, glucose metabolism, body mass index (BMI), thyroid function, infertility, breast feeding, uric acid and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The true significance of these findings is uncertain due to the inconsistencies in some of the study results and the limitations of the literature. The majority of studies were cross-sectional and considered surrogate markers of health (e.g. cholesterol levels). The available literature is also limited in ascertaining the link between PFOS concentrations in the environment, exposure pathways and health effects. We conclude that the current evidence is inconclusive and further large-scale prospective cohort studies would be useful to assess the association between environmental exposure to PFOS, appropriate biomarkers (e.g. serum levels of PFOS) and health outcomes.

Graphical abstract: The impact of PFOS on health in the general population: a review

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Article information

21 Aug 2012
01 Nov 2012
First published
29 Nov 2012

Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2013,15, 329-335
Article type
Critical Review

The impact of PFOS on health in the general population: a review

S. Saikat, I. Kreis, B. Davies, S. Bridgman and R. Kamanyire, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2013, 15, 329
DOI: 10.1039/C2EM30698K

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