• article

    Biomonitoring of Perfluorinated Compounds in Children and Adults Exposed to Perfluorooctanoate-Contaminated Drinking Water



    40,000 residents in Arnsberg, Germany, had been exposed to drinking water contaminated with perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). Internal exposure of the residents of Arnsberg to six PFCs was assessed in comparison with reference areas.

    Design and participants

    One hundred seventy children (5–6 years of age), 317 mothers (23–49 years), and 204 men (18–69 years) took part in the cross-sectional study.


    Individual consumption of drinking water and personal characteristics were assessed by questionnaire and interview. Perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), perfluorohexanoate, perfluorohexanesulfonate (PFHxS), perfluoropentanoate, and perfluorobutanesulfonate (PFBS) in blood plasma and PFOA/PFOS in drinking water samples were measured by solid-phase extraction, high-performance liquid chromatrography, and tandem mass spectrometry detection.


    Of the various PFCs, PFOA was the main compound found in drinking water (500–640 ng/L). PFOA levels in blood plasma of residents living in Arnsberg were 4.5–8.3 times higher than those for the reference population (arithmetic means Arnsberg/controls: children 24.6/5.2 μg/L, mothers 26.7/3.2 μg/L, men 28.5/6.4 μg/L). Consumption of tap water at home was a significant predictor of PFOA blood concentrations in Arnsberg. PFHxS concentrations were significantly increased in Arnsberg compared with controls (p < 0.05). PFBS was detected in 33% of the children, 4% of the women, and 13% of the men in Arnsberg compared with 5%, 0.7%, and 3%, respectively, in the reference areas (p < 0.05). Regression analysis showed that age and male sex were significant predictors of PFOS, PFOA, and PFHxS; associations of other regressors (diet, body mass index) varied among PFCs.


    PFC concentrations in blood plasma of children and adults exposed to PFC-contaminated drinking water were increased 4- to 8-fold compared with controls.