Asian Americans have significantly high exposure to ‘toxic forever’ chemicals . Image Source: IANS News
New York, Aug 24 : Asian Americans have significantly higher exposure than other ethnic or racial groups to PFAS, a family of thousands of synthetic chemicals also known as “toxic forever” chemicals, researchers report.
People frequently encounter PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in everyday life, and these exposures carry potentially adverse health impacts, according to the study published in Environmental Science and Technology.
The scientists from the Mount Sinai Health System found that Asian Americans had a significantly higher PFAS exposure than all other US ethnic or racial groups, and that the median exposure score for Asian Americans was 89 per cent higher than for non-Hispanic whites.
“We found that if we used a customized burden scoring approach, we could uncover some disparities in PFAS exposure burden across population sub-groups,” said Shelley Liu, Associate Professor of Population Health Science and Policy at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
“These disparities are hidden if we use a one-size-fits-all approach to quantifying everyone’s exposure burden. In order to advance precision environmental health, we need to optimally and equitably quantify exposure burden to PFAS mixtures, to ensure that our exposure burden metric used is fair and informative for all people,” Liu added.
This is the first time that researchers accounted for complex exposure sources of different groups of people to calculate a person’s exposure burden to PFAS.
PFAS pollution is a major health concern, and nearly all Americans have detectable levels of PFAS chemicals in their blood.
PFAS are ubiquitous, and are used in products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water.
The Joe Biden administration in the US has allocated $9 billion to PFAS clean-up, and in March 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first enforceable federal standards to regulate PFAS contamination in public drinking water.
In the future, Liu’s team plans to incorporate toxicity information on each PFAS chemical into exposure burden scoring, to further evaluate disparities in toxicity-informed exposure burden in vulnerable groups and population subgroups.