Date: 13 Aug 2010

Perfluorinated Substances in Human Food and Other Sources of Human Exposure

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Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are ubiquitous environmental contaminants, which persist and may bioaccumulate through the food chain (Haukås et al. 2007; Martin et al. 2004b; Taniyasu et al. 2003). As a consequence, several PFCs have been detected in different biota worldwide. In recent years, an increasing number of papers report high levels of PFCs in blood, tissues, and breast milk from both occupationally and non-occupationally exposed human populations (Kannan et al. 2004; Kärrman et al. 2007; Olsen et al. 2007). The most important exposure pathways of perfluorinated compounds for humans are thought to be intake of drinking water and food and inhalation of dust (Björklund et al. 2009; Ericson et al. 2008a). Due to the widespread distribution, environmental degradation, and metabolism of the PFCs released into the environment, a very complex exposure situation exists (Fromme et al. 2007a). As a result, the relative contribution to human exposure from different routes or from a single source (e.g., diet) is not yet known. More specifically, it is currently unknown as to what extent exposure to drinking water, food, or dust contributes to the PFCs measured in human breast milk and blood. Moreover, data on levels of PFCs in the human diet are rather scarce (Kärrman et al. 2009; Tittlemier et al. 2006, 2007). Only PFC levels in fish appear to be well documented (Houde et al. 2006). Few studies, however, report the levels of PFCs in drinking water or human food such as vegetables, meat, and eggs (FSA 2006; US EPA 2001). Food processing such as cooking (boiling, baking, or grilling) could alter the concentration of PFCs in food and as a consequence affect the risk for humans.