Prevalence and Predictors of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Serum Levels among Members of a Suburban US Volunteer Fire Department

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Apr 2;18(7):3730. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18073730.


Background: Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are ubiquitous pollutants associated with adverse health outcomes. High PFAS levels have been demonstrated among career firefighters; less is known about PFAS levels among volunteer firefighters who comprise two-thirds of US firefighters.

Methods: Volunteer fire department members completed a survey and provided blood samples. We calculated geometric means and 95% CIs for PFAS reported by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). We compared PFAS distribution and levels among non-Hispanic white adult male study participants to those in the 2015-2016 and 2017-2018 NHANES cycles. We assessed associations between PFAS serum levels and years of firefighting controlling demographics and occupation using linear regression.

Results: Participant's average age was 46.6 years (sd. 17.1). Perfluorododecanoic acid (PFDoA) was detected in almost half study but <3% of NHANES participants; serum levels of PFDoA, perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) were elevated among participants compared with NHANES. Serum levels of both PFDA and PFDoA were positively associated with years of firefighting.

Conclusions: Volunteer firefighters may have a different serum profile and levels of PFAS than the general population. Future work in this area should include volunteer firefighters from other geographic locations and assess sources of PFAS exposure.

Keywords: PFAS prevalence; per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); volunteer firefighters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids*
  • Environmental Pollutants*
  • Fluorocarbons*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Prevalence
  • Volunteers


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons