Serum perfluoroalkyl substances and lung function in adolescents exposed to the World Trade Center disaster

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Environmental research


The effects of childhood exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) on lung function remain mostly unknown. Previous research indicates that children living or going to school near the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster were exposed to high levels of PFASs, among other toxic chemicals. To explore the effects of PFAS exposure on lung function, we measured serum PFASs in a cohort of children from the WTC Health Registry and a matched control group. Perfluorooctanesulfonate had the highest median concentrations in both groups (WTCHR = 3.72 ng/mL, Comparison = 2.75 ng/mL), while the lowest median concentrations were seen for perfluoroundecanoic acid (WTCHR = 0.12 ng/mL, Comparison = 0.01 ng/mL). Lung function outcomes were measured by spirometry, plethysmography, and oscillometry. Asthma diagnosis and serum eosinophil count were also recorded. We examined the relationships of each PFAS with lung function parameters and eosinophil count using linear regressions. Odds ratios for asthma were obtained for each PFAS using logistic regression. The effect of total PFASs on these outcomes was also assessed. All regression models were adjusted for sex, race/ethnicity, age, body mass index (BMI) and tobacco smoke exposure. We found that serum PFASs were not statistically associated with the measured lung function parameters, asthma diagnosis, or eosinophil count in this cohort (p < 0.05). These findings highlight the need for more longitudinal studies to explore the long-term effects of childhood PFAS exposure on lung function past adolescence and early adulthood.

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