PFCs and Health
Research has shown widespread exposure to PFCs in the U.S. population because of their use in everyday products. PFCs do not break down easily in the environment and some PFCs can remain in the body for extended periods of time. Available scientific research does not provide consistent information about whether PFCs cause health problems in humans.
Some animal studies, including those used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) do develop lifetime advisory levels, have shown adverse health effects in animals exposed to high levels of PFCs, including lower birth weight, changes in bone formation, and accelerated puberty in male mice. This does not necessarily predict health effects in people because human bodies process PFCs differently than the bodies of animals. Because of inconsistent and contradictory findings of the effects of PFCs in people, more scientific studies are needed to be sure which health effects, if any, are caused by exposure to PFCs.
While findings are inconsistent, studies suggest that PFCs could affect a variety of health endpoints, including:
- Changes to liver enzyme levels
- Increases in cholesterol levels
- Increases in uric acid levels
- 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, including lower birth weight in infants, obesity in adolescents/adults, and effects on cognitive and behavioral development in children
- Occurrence of some types of cancers: prostate, kidney, and testicular cancer
The PFC blood test is not a medical test that will help determine the cause of a health problem or provide information on treatment. The blood test will tell you how much of each PFC is in your blood at the time of the test. Blood testing provides individuals with information about their individual levels of PFC exposure, and some have expressed interest in knowing their blood levels because it may provide information in the future as research continues and more science emerges. For this reason, and to better understand exposure patterns within communities, NH DHHS has made PFC blood testing available to exposed communities. For more information about the DHHS PFC Blood Testing Program, please call 603-271-9461.