Video on the Proposed Study of Effects of PFAS Drinking Water
Contaminants on Children's Immune Systems
*If your child was exposed to PFAS contaminated water at Pease, please complete this quick anonymous survey to provide feedback on the proposed study: https://goo.gl/forms/mTchb3cvAdAZwnch2
The former Pease Air Force Base (currently the Pease International Tradeport) was in operation from 1956 to 1991 and was
declared a Superfund site in 1991. As a superfund site,
it is monitored by the NH DES and the EPA.
On May 12, 2014 the City of Portsmouth was informed by the New Hampshire DES (Department of Environmental Services) that water samples collected from the Haven well on the Pease Tradeport on April 16, 2014 detected chemicals called PFCs. The Haven well was immediately shut down due to levels of PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) testing at 12.5 times the 2009 PHA (Provisional Health Advisory) established by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The perfluorochemical PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) was also detected, but with levels testing just below the PHA. The other two wells serving the Pease Tradeport, the Smith and the Harrison wells, also detected PFOS and PFOA, however, both wells indicated levels below the 2009 PHAs.
PHA vs Pease Haven Well PFC Levels
- As of May 2016, the EPA has established health advisories for PFOA and PFOS based on the agency’s assessment of the latest peer-reviewed science to provide drinking water system operators, and state, tribal and local officials who have the primary responsibility for overseeing these systems, with information on the health risks of these chemicals, so they can take the appropriate actions to protect their residents. To provide Americans, including the most sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from a lifetime of exposure to PFOA and PFOS from drinking water, EPA has established the health advisory levels at 70 parts per trillion. When both PFOA and PFOS are found in drinking water, the combined concentrations of PFOA and PFOS should be compared with the 70 parts per trillion health advisory level. This health advisory level offers a margin of protection for all Americans throughout their life from adverse health effects resulting from exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. EPA’s health advisory levels were calculated to offer a margin of protection against adverse health effects to the most sensitive populations: fetuses during pregnancy and breastfed infants. The health advisory levels are calculated based on the drinking water intake of lactating women, who drink more water than other people and can pass these chemicals along to nursing infants through breastmilk.
EPA Drinking Water Health Advisory for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) - May 2016 (PDF)
Under EPA’s Guidelines for Carcinogen Risk Assessment (USEPA 2005), there is Suggestive Evidence of Carcinogenic Potential for PFOA. Epidemiology studies demonstrate an association of serum PFOA with kidney and testicular tumors among highly exposed members of the general population.
EPA Drinking Water Health Advisory for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) - May 2016 (PDF)
Adverse effects observed following exposures to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and PFOS are the same or similar and include effects in humans on serum lipids, birth weight, and serum antibodies. Some of the animal studies show common effects on the liver, neonate development, and responses to immunological challenges. Both compounds were also associated with tumors in long-term animal studies.
- ATSDR's Health Effects of PFCs | Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
According to the ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry), studies in humans have shown that certain PFCs may be associated with:
- Developmental delays in the fetus and child, including possible changes in growth, learning, and behavior.
- Decreased fertility and changes to the body’s natural hormones,
- Increased cholesterol,
- Changes to the immune system,
- Increased uric acid levels
- Changes in liver enzymes
- Prostate, kidney, and testicular cancer
- The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) list the potential health effects associated with PFCs as:
- Changes to the liver enzymes levels
- Increases in cholesterol levels
- Increases in uric acid levels, which may affect blood pressure
- Changes in sex hormone levels that could affect reproductive development and puberty
- Changes in thyroid hormone levels
- Lower immune function (lower antibody response to immunization)
- Effects on growth and development (lower birth weight in infants, obesity in adolescents/adults, cognitive and behavioral development)
- Decreased kidney function
- Incidence of insulin resistance and diabetes
- Occurrence of some types of cancers: prostate, kidney, and testicular cancer
- PFCs are a family of man-made chemicals that have been used industrially and in consumer products since the 1950s
According to the EPA, “These chemicals are persistent, and resist degradation in the environment. They also bioaccumulate, meaning their concentration increases over time in the blood and organs. At high concentrations, certain PFCs have been linked to adverse health effects in laboratory animals that may reflect associations between exposure to these chemicals and some health problems such as low birth weight, delayed puberty onset, elevated cholesterol levels, and reduced immunologic responses to vaccination.”
- Both PFOS and PFOA are classified by the EPA as emerging contaminants
An “emerging contaminant is a chemical or material that is characterized by a perceived, potential or real threat to human health or the environment or by a lack of published health standards.” Also according to the EPA:
- The toxicity, mobility and bioaccumulation potential of PFOS and PFOA pose potential adverse effects for the environment and human health.
- Toxicology studies show that PFOS and PFOA are readily absorbed after oral exposure and accumulate primarily in the serum, kidney, and liver.
- Studies also indicate that continued exposure to low levels of PFOA in drinking water may result in adverse health effects.
- In May 2006, the EPA Science Advisory Board suggested that PFOA cancer data are consistent with the EPA guidelines for the Carcinogen Risk Assessment descriptor “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
- The chronic exposure to PFOS and PFOA can lead to the development of tumors in the liver of rats; however, more research is needed to determine if there are similar cancer risks for humans.
- In a retrospective cohort mortality study of more than 6,000 PFOA-exposed employees at one plant, results identified elevated standardized mortality ratios for kidney cancer and a statistically significant increase in diabetes mortality for male workers.
- Analysis of U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey representative study samples indicate that higher concentrations of serum PFOA and PFOS are associated with thyroid disease in the U.S. general adult population.
- Half-life of PFCs (PDF)
The half-life is how long it would take for half of the chemical to be eliminated from the body, assuming no additional exposure. The half-lives of PFOA, PFOS and PFHxS are as follows:
- PFOS, PFOA and PFHxs are long-chain PFCs (PDF)
According to the EPA’s Long Term PFCs Action Plan (2009), “Long-chain PFCs are a concern for children’s health. Studies in laboratory animals have demonstrated developmental toxicity, including neonatal mortality. Children’s exposures are greater than adults due to increased intakes of food, water, and air per pound of body weight, as well as child-specific exposure pathways such as breast milk consumption, mouthing and ingestion of non-food items, and increased contact with the floor. Biomonitoring studies have found PFCs in cord blood and breast milk, and have reported that children have higher levels of some PFCs compared to adults. Thus, given the pervasive exposure to PFCs, the persistence of PFCs in the environment, and studies finding deleterious health effects, EPA will examine the potential risks to fetuses and children.“
- C8 Science Panel (C8 is also known as PFOA)
“During 2005-2013, the C8 Science Panel carried out exposure and health studies in the Mid-Ohio Valley communities, which had been potentially affected by the releases of PFOA (or C8) emitted since the 1950s from the Washington Works plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. They then assessed the links between C8 exposure and a number of diseases.” According to the C8 Science Panel, “For six disease categories, the Science Panel concluded that there was a Probable Link to C8 exposure: diagnosed high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.”
Findings from the C8 Science Panel
|Date||Probable Link||Not a Probable Link|
|Dec 5, 2011
||Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension & Preeclampsia||Birth defects
Premature birth or low birth weight
Miscarriage and stillbirths
|Apr 16, 2012
Other types of cancer
|Jul 30, 2012||Thyroid disease
Asthma or chronic obstructive airways
Neurodevelopmental disorders in children
|Oct 29, 2012||High cholesterol||Parkinson’s disease
Chronic kidney disease
High blood pressure
Coronary heart disease
Additional Studies on Health Hazards of C8/PFOA, PFOS and Other Long-chain1 PFCs
||Children exposed to increased levels of PFCs may have increased impulsivity.|
||PFCs are associated with endocrine disruption in women.|
||Exposure to high levels of C8/PFOA may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.|
||Prenatal exposure to long-chain PFCs may reduce the effectiveness of children’s vaccines.|
||A pregnant woman’s exposure to PFOA, PFOS and other long-chain PFCs may result in baby’s low birth weight and slowed growth as a toddler.|
||Babies whose mothers had had higher blood levels of PFOA during pregnancy are more likely to be obese at age 20.|
||Prenatal exposure to PFOA may delay the onset of puberty.|
||Women with higher levels of long-chain PFCs in blood may be more likely to experience early menopause.|
Source: Environmental Working Group, from studies as cited
Additional Data and Other PFC Exposure Sites
- ATSDR's Sources of Exposure to PFASs
- Changing Interpretation of Human Health Risks from Perfluorinated Compounds 2014 (PDF - Paper by Dr. Grandjean, MD and Dr. Clapp, DSc)
- FACT SHEET PFOA & PFOS Drinking Water Health Advisories 2016 (PDF)
- EPA Report, "America’s Children and the Environment (Third Edition)" 2013 (PDF - PFCs are specifically addressed on page 144)
- Harvard School of Public Health, "PFCs, chemicals widespread in environment, linked to lowered immune system response to childhood vaccinations" 2012
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) - Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)
- Environmental Working Group (EWG) Guide to Avoiding PFCs (PDF )
- GreenCleanProtect.com's Guide to Avoiding PFCs: A Family of Chemicals You Don't Want Near Your Family (PDF)
- ATSDR Sites Involvement