Association of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate with serum lipids among adults living near a chemical plant

Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Nov 15;170(10):1268-78. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwp279. Epub 2009 Oct 21.


Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are compounds that do not occur in nature but have been widely used since World War II and persist indefinitely in the environment. They are present in the serum of Americans with median levels of 4 ng/mL and 21 ng/mL, respectively. PFOA has been positively associated with cholesterol in several studies of workers. A cross-sectional study of lipids and PFOA and PFOS was conducted among 46,294 community residents aged 18 years or above, who drank water contaminated with PFOA from a chemical plant in West Virginia. The mean levels of serum PFOA and PFOS in 2005-2006 were 80 ng/mL (median, 27 ng/mL) and 22 ng/mL (median, 20 ng/mL), respectively. All lipid outcomes except high density lipoprotein cholesterol showed significant increasing trends by increasing decile of either compound; high density lipoprotein cholesterol showed no association. The predicted increase in cholesterol from lowest to highest decile for either compound was 11-12 mg/dL. The odds ratios for high cholesterol (>/=240 mg/dL), by increasing quartile of PFOA, were 1.00, 1.21 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.12, 1.31), 1.33 (95% CI: 1.23, 1.43), and 1.40 (95% CI: 1.29, 1.51) and were similar for PFOS quartiles. Because these data are cross-sectional, causal inference is limited. Nonetheless, the associations between these compounds and lipids raise concerns, given their common presence in the general population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / toxicity*
  • Caprylates / toxicity*
  • Chemical Industry
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Ohio
  • Soil Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*
  • West Virginia


  • Air Pollutants
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Caprylates
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Lipids
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Triglycerides
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • perfluorooctanoic acid
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid