CDC/ATSDR’s Involvement in PFAS and Health
Patrick Breysse, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s. These diverse group of chemicals are characterized by the strength of their carbon-fluorine bonds, which make them very stable and resistant to typical environmental degradation processes. During production and use, PFAS can migrate into the soil, water, and air. Most PFAS (including PFOA and PFOS) do not break down, so they remain in the environment. Because of their widespread use and their persistence in the environment, PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment.
CDC/ATSDR are conducting activities to expand the scientific knowledge base regarding the relationship between exposure to PFAS and human health outcomes. CDC/ATSDR does this through exposure assessments, health studies and the development of Toxicological Profiles. CDC/ATSDR is in the process of creating a profile of exposure in 10 communities across the nation through exposure assessments, and recently announced the recipients of research cooperative agreements to complete the PFAS multi-site health study that will look at the relationship between PFAS exposure and health outcomes in communities affected by contaminated drinking water. CDC/ATSDR has been engaged in several key initiatives related to PFAS and also produced tools and resources for states and communities working to better understand and communicate about PFAS exposure.
As the PFAS-related knowledge base grows, CDC/ATSDR will leverage its unique capacity, resources, and partnerships across federal agencies, state and local partner organizations, and affected communities to ensure that programmatic priorities are dynamic and responsive to the evolving scientific landscape.