Serum polyfluoroalkyl concentrations, asthma outcomes, and immunological markers in a case-control study of Taiwanese children

Environ Health Perspect. 2013 Apr;121(4):507-13. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1205351. Epub 2013 Jan 8.


Background: Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are ubiquitous pollutants. Experimental data suggest that they may be associated with adverse health outcomes, including asthma. However, there is little supporting epidemiological evidence.

Methods: A total of 231 asthmatic children and 225 nonasthmatic controls, all from northern Taiwan, were recruited in the Genetic and Biomarkers study for Childhood Asthma. Structure questionnaires were administered by face-to-face interview. Serum concentrations of 11 PFCs and levels of immunological markers were also measured. Associations of PFC quartiles with concentrations of immunological markers and asthma outcomes were estimated using multivariable regression models.

Results: Nine PFCs were detectable in most children (≥ 84.4%), of which perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was the most abundant (median serum concentrations of 33.9 ng/mL in asthmatics and 28.9 ng/mL in controls). Adjusted odds ratios for asthma among those with the highest versus lowest quartile of PFC exposure ranged from 1.81 (95% CI: 1.02, 3.23) for the perfluorododecanoic acid (PFDoA) to 4.05 (95% CI: 2.21, 7.42) for perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA). PFOS, PFOA, and subsets of the other PFCs were positively associated with serum IgE concentrations, absolute eosinophil counts (AEC), eosinophilic cationic protein (ECP) concentrations, and asthma severity scores among asthmatics.

Conclusions: This study suggests an association between PFC exposure and juvenile asthma. Because of widespread exposure to these chemicals, these findings may be of potential public health concern.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / chemically induced
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Eosinophil Cationic Protein / blood
  • Eosinophils / cytology
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / blood*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taiwan
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Biomarkers
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Eosinophil Cationic Protein