CDC and ATSDR Award $7 Million to Begin Multi-Site PFAS Study

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) are announcing the start of a multi-site health study to investigate the relationship between drinking water contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and health outcomes. CDC and ATSDR are making awards, in the amount of $1 million each, to the following institutions to look at exposures in communities listed:

  • Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, to look at exposures in El Paso County, CO
  • Michigan State Department of Health and Human Services to look at exposures in Parchment/Cooper Township, MI, and North Kent County, MI
  • RTI International and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to look at exposures in Montgomery County, PA
  • Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences – School of Public Health to look at exposures in Gloucester County, NJ
  • Silent Spring Institute to look at exposures in Hyannis, MA, and Ayer, MA
  • University at Albany, SUNY and New York State Department of Health to look at exposures in Hoosick Falls, NY, and Newburgh, NY
  • University of California – Irvine to look at exposures in communities near the UC Irvine Medical Center

“There is much that is unknown about the health effects of exposures to these chemicals,” said Patrick Breysse, PHD, CIH, Director of ATSDR and CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health. “The multi-site study will advance the scientific evidence on the human health effects of PFAS and provide some answers to communities exposed to the contaminated drinking water.”

The multi-site health study was authorized by the National Defense Authorization Acts of 2018 and 2019 to provide information to communities about the health effects of PFAS exposure. This is the first study to look at exposure to multiple PFAS at sites across the nation.  The information learned from the multi-site study will help all communities in the U.S. with PFAS drinking water exposures by allowing communities and governmental agencies to make better decisions about how to protect public health.

The goal of the multi-site study is to understand the relationship between PFAS exposure and health outcomes in differing populations. The study will add to our scientific knowledge about PFAS exposure and help people understand their risks for health effects.

The scientific evidence linking PFAS exposures with adverse health effects is increasing. Some studies in people have shown that exposure to certain PFAS might affect people’s health in the following ways:

  • Adversely affect growth, learning, and behavior of infants and children
  • Lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant
  • Interfere with the body’s natural hormones
  • Increase cholesterol levels
  • Affect the immune system
  • Increase the risks for some cancers

The multi-site study will recruit at least 2,000 children aged 4–17 years and 6,000 adults aged 18 years and older who were exposed to PFAS-contaminated drinking water. Participants and birth mothers of eligible children cannot have a history of work exposure to PFAS.

BACKGROUND

PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1950s. They have been used in non-stick cookware; water-repellent clothing; stain-resistant fabrics and carpets; some cosmetics; some firefighting foams; and products that resist grease, water, and oil. Scientists are still learning about the health effects of exposure to PFAS. Some studies have shown that PFAS exposure may affect growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children; lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant; interfere with the body’s natural hormones; increase cholesterol levels; affect the immune system; and increase the risk of cancer.

For more information about the PFAS multi-site health study, visit: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/related_activities.html#Multi-Site-Health-Study.

For more information about PFAS and available resources, visit: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/index.html or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636).

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