Perfluoroalkyl acids in serum of Korean children: Occurrences, related sources, and associated health outcomes

Sci Total Environ. 2018 Dec 15;645:958-965. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.177. Epub 2018 Jul 20.


Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) have been widely used in human environment, and their exposure among general population has been frequently reported. However, extent of PFAAs exposure and their potential effects among children are not well characterized. In this study, children of between 3 and 18 years of age (n = 150) were recruited in Seoul and Gyeonggi, Korea, and the serum levels of 16 PFAAs along with lipids and thyroid hormones were measured. Questionnaire survey was conducted for dietary and behavioral characteristics of the children. Among the measured PFAAs, PFOA, PFNA, PFHxS, and PFOS were detected in all the samples, and PFUnDA and PFDA were detected in over 75% of the samples. PFOS was detected at the highest concentration with a median of 5.68 ng/mL. PFUnDA was detected at higher levels (median of 0.652 ng/mL) compared to those reported for children in USA. Serum PFAA levels were not different by sex among the children of <10 years of age, but in older children, those of boys are significantly higher than girls. Physiological characteristics like menstruation may explain lower PFAAs levels of the girls. In addition, breastmilk consumption, fish/shellfish consumption, non-stick frying pan use, and waterproof cloth use were identified as potential sources of PFAAs exposure. Serum PFUnDA level was positively associated with total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein level of the children. PFNA was positively associated with free T4 level. High levels of PFUnDA among children and its association with serum lipids warrant replication and confirmation in other populations and/or supports by experimental studies.

Keywords: Blood lipids; Children; PFUnDA; Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs); Thyroid hormones.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / blood
  • Animals
  • Caprylates
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Republic of Korea
  • Seoul


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Caprylates
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons