Perfluorooctanesulfonate and other fluorochemicals in the serum of American Red Cross adult blood donors

Environ Health Perspect. 2003 Dec;111(16):1892-901. doi: 10.1289/ehp.6316.


Perfluorooctanesulfonyl fluoride-based products have included surfactants, paper and packaging treatments, and surface protectants (e.g., for carpet, upholstery, textile). Depending on the specific functional derivatization or degree of polymerization, such products may degrade or metabolize, to an undetermined degree, to perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), a stable and persistent end product that has the potential to bioaccumulate. In this investigation, a total of 645 adult donor serum samples from six American Red Cross blood collection centers were analyzed for PFOS and six other fluorochemicals using HPLC-electrospray tandem mass spectrometry. PFOS concentrations ranged from the lower limit of quantitation of 4.1 ppb to 1656.0 ppb with a geometric mean of 34.9 ppb [95% confidence interval (CI), 33.3-36.5]. The geometric mean was higher among males (37.8 ppb; 95% CI, 35.5-40.3) than among females (31.3 ppb; 95% CI, 30.0-34.3). No substantial difference was observed with age. The estimate of the 95% tolerance limit of PFOS was 88.5 ppb (upper limit of 95% CI, 100.0 ppb). The measures of central tendency for the other fluorochemicals (N-ethyl perfluorooctanesulfonamidoacetate, N-methyl perfluorooctanesulfonamidoacetate, perfluorooctanesulfonamidoacetate, perfluorooctanesulfonamide, perfluorooctanoate, and perfluorohexanesulfonate) were approximately an order of magnitude lower than PFOS. Because serum PFOS concentrations correlate with cumulative human exposure, this information can be useful for risk characterization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / blood*
  • Blood Donors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Fluorides / blood*
  • Fluorocarbons / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Red Cross*
  • Serum / chemistry*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Statistics as Topic
  • United States


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Fluorocarbons
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid
  • Fluorides