Correlates of plasma concentrations of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances among reproductive-aged Black women

Environ Res. 2022 Jan:203:111860. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111860. Epub 2021 Aug 14.


Background: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic chemicals used in commercial and consumer goods. Black women are underrepresented in studies of PFAS exposure.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of correlates of plasma PFAS concentrations among 1499 Black women aged 23-35 participating in the Study of Environment, Lifestyle, and Fibroids (SELF), a Detroit-based cohort study. At baseline (2010-2012), participants provided questionnaire data on socio-demographics; behaviors; diet; and menstrual, contraceptive, and reproductive histories. Using mass spectrometry in non-fasting plasma samples collected at enrollment, we quantified several PFAS, including perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), perfluorononanoate (PFNA), perfluorodecanoate (PFDA), perfluoroundecanoate (PFUnDA), and 2-N-methyl-perfluorooctane sulfonamido acetate (MeFOSAA). We used linear regression to calculate percentage differences (%D) and 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) for associations between selected correlates and PFAS concentrations, adjusting for all other correlates.

Results: PFHxS, PFOS, PFOA, and PFNA were detected in ≥97 % of women; PFDA in 86 %; MeFOSAA in 70 %; and PFUnDA in 52 %. Age, income, education, and intakes of water, alcohol, and seafood were positively associated with several PFAS. Current smoking was positively associated with MeFOSAA. Body mass index was inversely associated with most PFAS, except PFHxS. Strong inverse associations (%D; 95 % CI) were observed between parity (≥3 vs. 0 births) and PFHxS (-34.7; -43.0, -25.1) and PFOA (-33.1; -39.2, -26.3); breastfeeding duration (≥6 months vs. nulliparous) and PFOA (-31.1; -37.8, -23.7), PFHxS (-24.2; -34.5, -12.3), and PFOS (-18.4; -28.3, -7.1); recent birth (<2 years ago vs. nulliparous) and PFOA (-33.1; -39.6, -25.8), PFHxS (-29.3; -39.0, -18.1), PFNA (-25.2; -32.7, -16.8), and PFOS (-18.3; -28.3, -6.9); and intensity of menstrual bleed (heavy vs. light) and PFHxS (-18.8; -28.3, -8.2), PFOS (-16.4; -24.9, -7.1), PFNA (-10.5; -17.8, -2.6), and PFOA (-10.0; -17.2, -2.1). Current use of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) was positively associated with PFOS (20.2; 1.4, 42.5), PFOA (16.2; 1.5, 33.0), and PFNA (15.3; 0.4, 32.4).

Conclusions: Reproductive factors that influence PFAS elimination showed strong associations with several PFAS (reduced concentrations with parity, recent birth, lactation, heavy menstrual bleeding; increased concentrations with DMPA use).

Keywords: Correlates; Environmental chemicals; Females; Prospective studies; Race; per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Publication types

  • Research Support, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Environmental Pollutants*
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproduction


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons