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DHHS Home > Division of Public Health Services > Poly- and Per-fluoroalkyl Substances >
Information About PFAS for Healthcare Providers

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Healthcare Provider

Poly- and per-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS, formerly PFCs), 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 PFAS 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 PFAS. Hand-to-mouth transfer from surfaces treated with PFAS-containing stain protectants, such as carpets and upholstery, is thought to be a significant source of exposure for infants and toddlers. Certain PFAS 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 PFAS cause any specific health effects, they suggest that PFAS 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 PFAS 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 PFAS.

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

Healthcare Provider Resources

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