Serum perfluoroalkyl substances in children exposed to the world trade center disaster

Environ Res. 2017 Apr;154:212-221. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.01.008. Epub 2017 Jan 16.


The World Trade Center (WTC) disaster released large amounts of various chemical substances into the environment, including perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). Yet, no studies have examined exposures in children living or attending schools near the disaster site. We measured serum PFASs in WTC Health Registry (WTCHR) respondents who were ≤8 years of age on September 11, 2001 and a sociodemographically-matched comparison group. We also examined the relationship of PFASs levels with dust cloud exposure; home dust exposure, and with traumatic exposure, the latter to take into account differences related to possible mental health consequences and associated behavioral problems. Serum samples, collected between 2014 and 2016, were analyzed from 123 WTCHR participants and from 185 participants in the comparison group. In the WTCHR group, median perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) levels were 1.81ng/mL and 3.72ng/mL, respectively. Controlling for sex, caloric intake, race/ethnicity, and date of birth, significant increases among WTCHR participants compared with the matched comparison group were detected for perfluorohexanesulfonate (0.23ng/mL increase or 0.24log unit increase, p=0.006); PFOS (0.86ng/mL increase or 0.16log unit increase, p=0.011); PFOA (0.35ng/mL increase or 0.18log unit increase, p<0.001); perfluorononanoic acid (0.12ng/mL increase or 0.17log unit increase, p=0.003); perfluorodecanoic acid (0.06ng/mL increase or 0.42log unit increase, p<0.001); and perfluoroundecanoic acid (0.03ng/mL increase or 0.32log unit increase, p=0.019). Stronger associations were identified for home dust exposures and traumatic exposures than dust cloud. These findings highlight the importance of conducting longitudinal studies in this population to assess possible cardiometabolic and renal consequences related to these exposures.

Keywords: Children; Dust cloud; Home dust exposure; Perfluoroalkyl substances; World Trade Center disaster.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Air Pollutants / blood*
  • Child
  • Disasters
  • Dust
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New York
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks / statistics & numerical data*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Dust
  • Fluorocarbons