First link between potentially toxic PFCs in office air and in office workers' blood

First link between potentially toxic PFCs in office air and in office workers' blood

In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists are reporting that the indoor air in offices is an important source of worker exposure to potentially toxic substances released by carpeting, furniture, paint and other items. Their report, which documents a link between levels of these so-called polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in office air and in the blood of workers, appears in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Michael McClean and colleagues explain that PFCs, used in water-repellent coatings on carpet and , may have adverse effects on human health. The substances are widespread in the environment and in humans around the world. Scientists know that potential sources of exposure include food, water, indoor air, indoor dust and direct contact with PFC-containing objects. But the link between levels in air and blood had not been explored previously, so McClean's group set out to fill that gap with a study of 31 office workers in Boston.

They found concentrations of a PFC called fluorotelomer alcohol (FTOH) in office air that were 3-5 times higher than those reported in previous studies of household air, "suggesting that offices may represent a unique and important exposure environment." In addition, the study found a strong link between concentrations of FTOH in office air and perfluorooctanoic acid (a metabolite of FTOH) in the blood of office workers. The results also suggested that workers in newly renovated office buildings may receive considerably higher doses of PFCs than workers in older buildings.

More information: Polyfluorinated Compounds in Serum Linked to Indoor Air in Office Environments, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2012, 46 (2), pp 1209–1215. DOI: 10.1021/es2038257

Abstract
We aimed to investigate the role of indoor office air on exposure to polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) among office workers. Week-long, active air sampling was conducted during the winter of 2009 in 31 offices in Boston, MA. Air samples were analyzed for fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs), sulfonamides (FOSAs), and sulfonamidoethanols (FOSEs). Serum was collected from each participant (n = 31) and analyzed for 12 PFCs including PFOA and PFOS. In air, FTOHs were present in the highest concentrations, particularly 8:2-FTOH (GM = 9920 pg/m3). FTOHs varied significantly by building with the highest levels observed in a newly constructed building. PFOA in serum was significantly correlated with air levels of 6:2-FTOH (r = 0.43), 8:2-FTOH (r = 0.60), and 10:2-FTOH (r = 0.62). Collectively, FTOHs in air significantly predicted PFOA in serum (p < 0.001) and explained approximately 36% of the variation in serum PFOA concentrations. PFOS in serum was not associated with air levels of FOSAs/FOSEs. In conclusion, FTOH concentrations in office air significantly predict serum PFOA concentrations in office workers. Variation in PFC air concentrations by building is likely due to differences in the number, type, and age of potential sources such as carpeting, furniture, and/or paint.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dust on office surfaces can be a source of exposure to PBDEs

Jun 30, 2011

In a study of 31 Boston offices, polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants now banned internationally by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants were detected in every office tested. The research, ...

Researchers link widely used chemicals to ADHD in children

Jul 20, 2010

A new study led by a team of Boston University School of Public Health researchers suggests a link between polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFCs), industrial compounds which are widely used in many consumer products, and attention ...

Recommended for you

Patient-centered medical homes reduce costs

4 minutes ago

The patient-centered medical home (PCMH), introduced in 2007, is a model of health care that emphasizes personal relationships, team delivery of care, coordination across specialties and care settings, quality ...

New mums still excessively sleepy after four months

1 hour ago

(Medical Xpress)—New mums are being urged to be cautious about returning to work too quickly, after a QUT study found one in two were still excessively sleepy four months after giving birth.

It's time to address the health of men around the world

1 hour ago

All over the world, men die younger than women and do worse on a host of health indicators, yet policy makers rarely focus on this "men's health gap" or adopt programs aimed at addressing it, according to an international ...

User comments