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ATSDR Exposure Studies for PFAS

This week the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) announced an additional eight locations to conduct human exposure assessments for per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  The sites are all linked to the use of PFAS containing fire fighting foams at current or former Defense Department installations.  The first of the new assessments will start in 2019 with additional studies beginning through 2020. The new study locations include:

  • Berkeley County, WV near Shepherd Field Air National Guard Base
  • El Paso County, CO near Peterson Air Force Base
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough, AK near Eielson Air Force Base
  • Hampden County, MA near Barnes Air National Guard Base
  • Lubbock County, TX near Reese Technology Center
  • New Castle County, DE near New Castle Air National Guard Base
  • Orange County, NY near Stewart Air National Guard Base
  • Spokane County, WA near Fairchild Air Force Base

These new studies follow two pilot exposure assessments in Westhampton, NY near Gabreski Air National Guard Base and Bucks and Montgomery Counties, PA near Horsham Air Guard Station and former Naval Air Warfare Center.  These pilot efforts were conducted in partnership with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the two state health departments to evaluate PFAS Exposure Assessment Technical Tools.

This exposure assessment is a way to evaluate whether and how people in a community might have been exposed to a substance in their environment. An assessment will identify where exposure is coming from, how much people are exposed to, and how long people have been exposed.  These studies will include biomonitoring but an exposure assessment is different than a health study.  It does not look at what types of health problems the exposure might cause.  The assessments will provide valuable information to help those living near other PFAS sites understand human exposure and take appropriate actions in response.  The data can also help design future human health studies at PFAS sites.  ATSDR also has an upcoming multi-site study on human health and is currently working in the Pease International Tradeport community in New Hampshire to test the protocol for this work.

For more information, please visit ATSDR’s website at https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/PFAS-Exposure-Assessments.html.