PFCs: facts & figures
PFC blood levels
- In U.S. population, by year
- In U.S. population, by sex
- In MN community exposed through water
- In MN community not exposed through water
PFC levels in the U.S. population
Perfluorochemicals (PFCs), including PFOS, PFOA and PFHxS, are chemicals that have been used for many years to make products that resist heat, stains, grease and water. Blood levels of PFOS and PFOA have declined in the U.S. population since 1999. The trend over time is less clear for PFHxS.
The median is the level that 50% of people tested fall above and 50% of people tested fall below. The 95th percentile is the level that 95% of people fall below. It shows PFC levels in the most highly exposed people.
These declines are likely a result of reductions in the production of certain PFCs during this time period. 3M, formerly the primary manufacturer of PFOS world-wide, stopped producing PFOS in 2002. Efforts are also underway to reduce PFOA production and use.
PFC blood levels in the U.S. population by sex
Men in the U.S. have higher blood levels of PFCs than women. This difference has been seen in many scientific studies, including PFC Biomonitoring in the East Metro of Minneapolis-St. Paul. It may be due to differing product use and the ways PFCs are cleared from the body. Women can clear PFCs through menstruation, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
PFCs in people in Minnesota
In the East Metro of Minneapolis- St. Paul, some drinking water sources were polluted with PFCs. Filtration systems were installed in 2006 on the Oakdale municipal water system and on many private wells to remove these chemicals. Water systems are tested regularly.
MDH has conducted biomonitoring in East Metro residents since 2008. Biomonitoring has shown that the efforts reduce PFCs in drinking water are working.
PFC blood levels in long-term residents of the East Metro
PFC blood levels in long-term residents are still higher than levels seen in the U.S. population, but they are getting closer.
PFC blood levels in new residents of the East Metro
PFCs are common chemicals
Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are chemicals that have been used for many years to make products that resist heat, stains, grease and water. There are many different PFCs. The three shown here are detected in the blood of most people: perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS).
People can be exposed to PFCs from using certain products and eating contaminated food. Items that may contain PFCs include furniture, carpets, and clothing that are treated to resist stains and repel water, nonstick cookware, fire-fighting foams, and fast food packaging. In some communities with water sources contaminated with PFCs, such as the East Metro of Minneapolis- St. Paul, exposure can also be through drinking water.
Scientists are studying potential health effects
Scientists still do not fully understand the human health effects of PFC exposure. Studies of workers in PFC production jobs have not found consistent evidence that PFCs are increasing the risk of health problems. A large study of people exposed to PFOA in drinking water in West Virginia and Ohio found that there is a “probable link” between PFOA and some health conditions, but found no link with many other conditions. Research continues on PFCs and health effects such as birth outcomes, hormone balance, cholesterol levels, and immune response.
Biomonitoring shows PFC levels in the body
Biomonitoring measures the amount of PFCs in a person’s blood. It shows the levels of PFCs a person has in their body from all different sources of exposure. Charts on this page show levels in micrograms (mcg) of PFC per liter (L) of blood. Some PFCs are cleared from the body more quickly than others. PFOS, PFOA, and PFHxS stay in the body for years. There are no reference levels for "safe" or "unsafe" amounts of PFCs in the body.
Data shown for the U.S. population are from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES provides valuable comparison data that are not available for the statewide population in Minnesota.