Design, methods, and population for a study of PFOA health effects among highly exposed mid-Ohio valley community residents and workers

Environ Health Perspect. 2013 Aug;121(8):893-9. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1206450. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


Background: A cohort of community residents and workers is the basis for a series of epidemiologic studies of a Mid-Ohio Valley population with substantial perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) exposure due to releases from a chemical plant.

Objectives: We describe study design, methods, and study participants for a longitudinal cohort study of associations between PFOA exposure and adult chronic diseases.

Methods: Two cohorts were formed, one recruited from community residents who participated in a previous community-wide survey, and one from plant workers. Study participants were interviewed during 2008-2011 regarding demographics, health-related behaviors, and personal history of chronic diseases. Reported diseases were validated through medical records review and registry matching. Here we describe cohort characteristics, compare survey respondents and nonrespondents, provide data on the number of diseases reported and validated, and describe historical estimates of serum PFOA concentrations over time.

Results: The final combined cohort included 32,254 participants (28,541 community; 3,713 worker). Participation rates were high (community, 81.5%; worker, 72.9% of target population). The final population from each cohort was representative of the target population in terms of demographic characteristics and measured serum PFOA concentrations in 2005-2006. The study had a wide exposure range and the number of reported cases of chronic diseases was high, resulting in greater power to detect associations than has been the case for many previous studies.

Conclusions: This is the largest study to date of the health effects of PFOA. The information from this cohort is being used to examine associations between PFOA exposure and multiple adult chronic diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Caprylates / blood
  • Caprylates / toxicity*
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / blood
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / blood
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*
  • West Virginia / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Caprylates
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • perfluorooctanoic acid