Asian American Americans have almost twice as many toxic “forever chemicals” in their blood compared to other ethnicities.
A study examining the blood and urine of more than 3,000 Americans found that average levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were 89 percent higher in Asian Americans.
Researchers said it’s unclear why, but it could be due to a diet high in seafood, which is a major source of PFAS contamination.
PFAS are a group of synthetic chemicals found in food packaging, clothing, and thousands of other products in the United States.
Because of their ubiquity, they get into the soil, drinking water, air, and food, exposing Americans to the toxins almost everywhere.
They are considered “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment or in the human body.
Researchers say it’s unclear why Asian Americans have higher levels of PFAS, but they do know that fish is a major source of PFAS exposure and populations with higher percentages of seafood in their diets generally have higher levels of PFAS (stock image )
PFAS are associated with birth defects and an increased risk of a number of cancers.
The study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, was conducted by researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
It is the first in which researchers considered a variety of complex exposure sources in different populations to calculate an individual’s exposure to PFAS.
The researchers analyzed data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a study program to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the US between 2013 and 2018.
The study group includes a representative sample of the US population consisting of 3,915 individuals.
The researchers then collected human biomonitoring information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including blood and urine samples, and measured levels of eight types of PFAS.
dr Shelley Liu, study author and associate professor of population health science and policy at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said the researchers used a tailored approach to determine PFAS levels between different ethnicities to find “hidden” differences .
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic chemicals found in thousands of products and foods in the United States. The map above shows cities that have been found to have higher levels of PFAS in public water supplies and in private wells
PFAS, also known as the “forever chemicals,” have been linked to birth defects and an increased risk of a number of cancers.
“These differences remain hidden when we use a unified approach” to measure people’s exposure, added Dr. Liu added.
In Asian Americans, researchers also found that lower-income individuals had higher average blood PFAS levels, but higher-income households in the general population had higher PFAS levels.
Based on the analyzed data, the researchers concluded that exposure sources such as diet and occupation could be the cause of the differences in exposure between different ethnic populations in the US.
However, they stressed it was important to note that since the toxins are so ubiquitous, it is difficult to trace exposure sources. They hope future work will focus more on sources of PFAS exposure.