At ChemSec, we knew that we would all have PFAS in our bodies. What we didn’t know was how much. A couple of weeks ago, twelve of us sent blood samples to a laboratory that would help us find out. Now, the results are in.
PFAS are everywhere. These man-made industrial chemicals have been seeping into our environment for over 70 years and are today found all over the globe. The persistent and bioaccumulative nature of these chemicals not only means that they do not break down in nature, it also means that they accumulate and travel up the food chain.
Since humans are at the very top of the food chain, PFAS levels build up in our bodies at a steady pace. Today, it is safe to say that every single human being on the planet have detectable levels of PFAS in their blood. With ever-increasing levels of these chemicals linked to negative health effects such as infertility, cancer, lowered birth weight and immune system disorders, the consequences could become detrimental.
At ChemSec, we wanted to know how much PFAS we have in our own bodies. So, twelve of us sent blood samples to a laboratory that would help us find out — and now the results are in.
“9 out of the 12 ChemSec employees exceed the guideline value set by the European Food Safety Authority”
It turns out that nine out of the twelve ChemSec employees exceed the guideline value of 6,9 ng/mL set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The average PFAS level among ChemSec employees was 7,1 ng/mL, and although the majority found themselves in the same range, there were two outliers on either extreme. The employee with the highest PFAS level landed at 11,3 ng/mL, while the lowest “score” only showed 2,3 ng/mL in that person’s blood.
Beforehand, we thought we would be able to see some patterns emerge from the twelve test results. Age was one factor that we thought would raise the PFAS level since these chemicals build up over time. Another factor we thought would influence the results was dietary preferences. As PFAS travel up along the food chain, keeping a vegetarian diet would in this sense mean lower PFAS levels. But when we analysed the results within the group, we couldn’t see any such patterns.
Even though it is concerning that 75% of the ChemSec employees that had their blood tested exceed the EFSA guideline value, the PFAS levels are actually not as bad as those found in European teenagers. According to a large-scale human biomonitoring study, PFAS levels are soaring among young people in Europe. Worst of all nine countries studied was Sweden where teenagers marked an average PFAS level of 12,3 ng/mL.
We need a universal PFAS ban
All of this goes to show that we need a comprehensive PFAS ban sooner rather than later. In January, a broad PFAS restriction proposal will be submitted to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). It is crucial that this PFAS ban targets all PFAS for all uses that are not essential to society and does not include broad exemptions
It is not just us — not wanting toxic chemicals accumulating in our bodies — that want to see these “forever chemicals” banned, a large number of companies also support a comprehensive PFAS ban. In our corporate PFAS Movement we have gathered 95 companies that are all taking a stand against the use of PFAS.
Until decision-makers implements a universal PFAS ban to stop these “forever chemicals” from entering our bodies and our environment, the PFAS levels in our bloodstream will increase and cause serious negative health effects.
PFAS is the collective name of around 5,000 chemicals. The ChemSec employees were only tested for 12 of these — PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA, PFHxA, PFHpA, PFDA, PFUnDA, PFDoDA, PFTrDA, PFDS, PFOSA.