In the event that a person is exposed to PFAS chemicals, there are a variety of factors that influence the potential for health effects. These factors include the levels that person was exposed to, the length of exposure, and personal factors such as age, lifestyle, and overall health.
There have been many studies that looked at possible relationships between levels of PFAS chemicals in blood and harmful human health effects. However, most of these studies analyzed only a small number of PFAS chemicals, and not all of them have the same health effects. Research suggests that high levels of certain PFAS chemicals, including PFOA and PFOS may:
- Increase cholesterol levels.
- Cause liver damage or changes in liver function.
- Decrease how well the body responds to vaccines.
- Increase the risk of an asthma diagnosis.
- Increase the risk of thyroid disease.
- Decrease fertility in women.
- Increase the risk of serious conditions like high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women.
- Lower infant birth weights; however, the decrease in birth weight is small and may not affect the infant’s health.
Studies do not clearly show whether PFAS chemicals cause cancer in people. People exposed to high levels may have an increased risk of kidney cancer or testicular cancer. However, these studies are not consistent and may not have looked at other factors, such as smoking habits.
A majority of the research in this field is on the chemicals PFOA and PFOS, but other PFAS chemicals, such as PFHpA, PFHxS, PFBS, and PFNA, may have similar impacts in humans. Scientists are actively studying the health impacts of exposure to PFAS chemicals at levels and mixtures similar to those seen in Colorado. As new studies become available, our understanding of the health impacts of these chemicals in humans will continue to grow.