UQ Study on PFASs in Australian Firefighters
The University of Queensland has carried out a study to evaluate PFASs present in the blood serum of 799 Airservices Australia’s current and former staff.
The aims of the study were:
- To measure the participants’ PFAS blood concentration levels and understand how these levels were linked to ‘work history’.
- To determine how PFAS blood levels change over time and compare these levels and changes to those in the general population.
- To determine whether the PFAS blood levels were associated with any changes in other biochemical measures of health such as cholesterol, liver and kidney tests.
The study found:
- Blood serum levels of 40 PFAS were recorded (incl. PFHxA, PFBA, 10:2, 8:2, 6:2 and 4:2 FTS), most of which were not detected, or in less than 15% of participants, so justified no further study.
- Only 6 PFAS were found in 90% of participant’s serum (studied closely) ie. PFOA, PFNA, PFDA, PFHxS, PFHpS & PFOS - all legacy long-chain C8PFAS, already restricted from use and no longer manufactured. The last 3 strongly correlated with pre-2005 Lightwater AFFF use. 3 other PFAS were found at lower levels (PFUnDA 30%; PFHpA 29% and PFBS 16% participant’s serum).
- Serum concentration comparisons for these 130 participants between 2013 and 2019 showed average decreases of 58% PFOA, 42% PFHxS, 45% PFHpS and 49% PFOS.
- “Overall, the associations that were found were relatively small and did not result in an increased risk of out-of-range (potentially abnormal) values across the serum PFAA concentrations in this study.”
- The study confirmed no significant associations over time in chloresterol (HDL, LDL) or urate with PFAS concentrations, also observing "PFOA concentrations [was] similar to general population, indicating no increased exposure through occupational activities to this chemical."
- Participants starting work pre-2005 were found to have higher PFOS, PFHxS and PFHpS levels than Australia’s population generally - as expected. Those starting post-2005 had concentrations similar to the general population.
To read this study online, please click or tap here.
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Our thanks to Mike Willson for his help with this article.