Widespread Chemical Linked to Higher Cholesterol in Children, Teens

Children and teens exposed to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), the chemical used to make many non-stick and stain-proof coatings, have elevated cholesterol levels, reports a landmark study by West Virginia University researchers.

Their findings were published in this month’s edition of the peer-reviewed journal Archive of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

This research, involving 12,476 participants 1-to-18 years old, found a link between body burden levels of PFOA and serum lipid levels, an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, metabolic problems and other long-term health consequences.

The research was funded by the C8 Health Project, a requirement from a class-action settlement over chemical contamination of drinking water in the Mid-Ohio River Valley.

PFOA is just one of the ubiquitous perfluorochemicals (PFCs) widely used in consumer products. People are exposed to PFCs through countless routes: pollution in drinking water and food, dust, non-stick cookware, various packaged foods and stain- and water-resistant clothing. A series of body burden studies by the Environmental Working Group have found PFOA in 100 percent of people tested. Most recently, EWG’s 2009 examination of umbilical cord blood from 10 minority newborns in the United States found it in all samples tested.

“These findings are a powerful reminder about how toxic PFCs are,” said EWG senior scientist Olga Naidenko, Ph.D. “This is the first study of its kind in children and teens, involving unprecedented number of participants. Although the levels of PFOA in the C8 Health Project population are higher than in the rest of Americans, there is an overlap, which makes the findings of the study very relevant to our understanding of long-term effects of PFOA on human health.”

Chemical manufacturers have pledged to phase out the controversial chemical, which has also been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and neurotoxicity in animal studies.

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EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. htp://www.ewg.org

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