PFAS

Unexpected research has uncovered that toxins discovered in petroleum-based solvents …

The ingestion of PFAS, a noxious chemicals present in numerous consumer goods, through the skin into the bloodstream is the subject of a new study, which contradictfrischend earlier beliefs.

Recent research has highlighted the importance of researching the health effects of ‘forever chemicals’ called PFAS, which are absorbed through human skin, contradicting conventional assumptions.

Study of 17 popular synthetic ‘forever chemicals’ in the US, the results of which show that most of the dangerous chemicals can be easily absorbed through the human body’s skin.

The ability of non-natural chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl substances to penetrate the skin barrier and enter the bloodstream is demonstrated by new research published by Environment International.

Due to their water and stain-repellent properties, PFAS is extensively used in industrial and consumer products such as school uniforms, personal care products, and numerous other substances are still widely used, and their toxic effects have not been fully investigated.

It is known that PFAS can already enter the body through other channels such as breathing, eating, or drinking water, and may cause negative health consequences like decreased immune function, liver function, and birth defects.

It has long been assumed that PFAS cannot ‘crack’ the skin barrier, but recent studies link PFAS levels to personal care products in human blood and breast milk, according to recent research – the most comprehensive heuristic study so far of the absorption patterns of PFAS into human skin to date which confirms that most of the PFAS can only “crack” and then into the body via this pathway.

The study was conducted by Dr Oddn Ragnarsdóttir, who was in her third year of a PhD at the University of Birmingham. She explained that the molecules in question were not absorbed through the skin due to their ionization, which hindered their ability to cross the skin membrane.

According to us, the notion is not universal and the skin’s uptake could be a significant trigger for exposure to these dangerous substances.

The researchers explored 17 different PFAS and opted for the most commonly employed and extensively researched compounds for their toxic effects and other potential human-exposure hazards. They most closely align with the Drinking Water Directive of the EU.

The experimenters used 3D human skin equivalent models as samples, which were created by hand. These tissues had multiple layers and resembled normal human skin, making it possible to conduct the study without animals being involved. They also monitored the proportions of each chemical in the models, which were either absorbed or left as is.

The team observed that 15 out of the 17 PFAS samples were subjected to substantial dermal absorption, which equated to at least 5% of the exposure dose. At different exposure levels, the most regulated PFAS was absorbed into the bloodstream, with 13.5% of the applied dose remaining within the skin for potential longer-term uptake into the circulation.

The quantity absorbed seemed to be linked to the length of the carbon chain in the molecule, with longer carbon chains resulting in lower absorption rates, and shorter chains acting as PFAS replacements, like PFOA, resulting in greater absorption as per perfluoro pentanoic acid, which was four times higher than PFOA, with a higher absorption rate at 59%.

Our study has revealed the importance of the dermal route as a pathway for exposure to a diverse range of chemicals. As many PFAS chemicals are already present, future research should aim to assess the risk of multiple types of toxic chemicals, rather than just one.

Professor Stuart Harrad, a co-author from the University of Birmingham’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, stressed the significance of studying skin exposure and the ease of absorption of chemicals with shorter chain lengths.

The study’s authors, Oddn Ragnarsdóttir, Mohamed Abou-Elwafa Abdallah, and Stuart Harrad, intends to investigate the densities of perfluoroalkyl substances using in vitro 3D human skin equivalent models. The paper is available at http://doi.org/10.1186/ENVIVO/20/2024.