Compounds used in consumer products to repel oil, grease and water can become airborne and contribute to potentially harmful chemicals that accumulate in the body, according to a new study led by researchers from Boston University School of Public Health and Simon Fraser University.
The study, in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that chemical precursors of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in indoor air are associated with levels of the chemicals perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in the blood of pregnant women.
The research team measured environmental levels of PFAAs and their precursors in residential air and dust in the homes of 50 pregnant women from Vancouver, Canada. Precursor concentrations were higher than PFAAs in residential air and dust, suggesting that the uses of these chemicals in the home are likely sources of exposure. The study found that precursor concentrations in bedroom air were associated with higher levels of PFOA and PFOS concentrations in maternal blood, confirming earlier BU research on PFOA precursors and extending it to PFOS precursors.
The study was led Dr. Colleen Makey, a postdoctoral fellow in environmental health at BU.
“While this is a preliminary study, we found that the precursor PFAA chemicals – which are found in a variety of everyday products – likely contribute to serum levels of PFOA and PFOS in our study population of pregnant women,” Dr. Makey said. “In previous studies, PFOA and PFOS have been associated with a variety of adverse health effects which may be particularly concerning during early development.”BU