Elevated levels of perfluoroalkyl acids in family members of occupationally exposed workers: the importance of dust transfer
The exposure pathways of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) to humans are still not clear because of the complex living environment, and few studies have simultaneously investigated the bioaccumulative behaviour of different PFAAs in humans. In this study, serum, dust, duplicate diet, and other matrices were collected around a manufacturing plant in China, and homologous series of PFAAs were analysed. PFAA levels in dust and serum of local residents in this area were considerably higher than those in non-polluted area. Although dietary intake was the major exposure pathway in the present study, dust ingestion played an important role in this case. Serum PFAAs in local residents was significantly correlated with dust PFAAs levels in their living or working microenvironment. Serum PFAAs and dust PFAAs were significantly higher in family members of occupational workers (FM) than in ordinary residents (OR) (p < 0.01). After a careful analysis of the PFAAs exposure pathway, a potential pathway in addition to direct dust ingestion was suggested: PFAAs might transferred from occupational worker's clothes to dinners via cooking processes. The bioaccumulative potential of PFHxS and PFOS were higher than other PFAAs, which suggested a substantial difference between the bioaccumulative ability of perfluorinated sulfonic acids and perfluorinated carboxylic acids.