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DHHS Home > Division of Public Health Services > Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) >
Information About PFCs for Healthcare Providers

Healthcare ProviderPerfluorochemicals (PFCs), also called perfluoroalkyls, are a group of synthetic chemicals that have been used for decades to manufacture household and commercial products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. People are exposed to PFC from many different sources but are most likely to have been exposed by ingesting them through contaminated water or from food packaged in products that contain PFCs. Hand-to-mouth transfer from surfaces treated with PFC-containing stain protectants, such as carpets and upholstery, is thought to be a significant source of exposure for infants and toddlers. Certain PFCs can build up and remain in the human body, and levels decrease very slowly over time.

While studies in humans do not consistently or conclusively show that PFCs cause any specific health effects, they suggest that PFCs could affect a variety of possible health endpoints, including:

  • Changes in liver enzymes
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Increased 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 certain types of cancers, in particular prostate, kidney, and testicular cancer

Overall, the scientific evidence linking PFC exposure with specific health effects in people is currently inconclusive, and more research is needed to confirm or rule out links between health outcomes and exposure to PFCs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR) has recently published information for healthcare providers related to PFCs. These materials can be found through the links below.

Healthcare Provider Resources

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