Occurrence of perfluorinated substances in an adult German population in southern Bavaria

  • H. Fromme
  • O. Midasch
  • D. Twardella
  • J. Angerer
  • S. Boehmer
  • B. Liebl
Original Article



Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are a large group of chemicals produced for several decades and widely used for many industrial and consumer applications. Because of their global occurrence in different environmental media, their persistence, and their potential to bioaccumulate in organisms they are of toxicological and public concern.


In the present study, the internal exposure to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in 356 human plasma samples collected from an adult population in Germany in 2005 is quantified.


We were able to detect the target analytes in all plasma samples and observed a significant correlation between the PFOS and PFOA concentrations. In female participants, the levels of PFOS and PFOA ranged between 2.5–30.7 (median: 10.9 μg/l) and 1.5–16.2 μg/l (median: 4.8 μg/l), respectively. In males we observed concentrations from 2.1 to 55.0 μg/l (median: 13.7 μg/l) for PFOS and from 0.5 to 19.1 μg/l (median: 5.7 μg/l) for PFOA. A significant correlation between both PFOS and PFOA concentrations and gender was observed. We also found increased levels of the PFCs with increasing age of the participants, but this association reached statistical significance among females only.


Our data agree well with results of other recent studies in Europe and suggest that the current exposure of the adult German population is lower than the exposure of the US and Canadian population. The sources of human exposure are currently not well understood. Toxicological implications are restricted to animal studies and occupational investigations not adequate for quantitative risk assessment in humans. Overall, more scientific research is necessary to characterize the body burden of PFCs (especially for relevant subsets of the population) and the main sources and routes, which are responsible for human exposure and possible health implications of these compounds.


PFOS PFOA PFC Blood Biomarkers Human 



The authors would like to thank Mr. Weinauer and Mr. Howe (Bavarian Red Cross Blood Donation Service), and Mr. Becker (City of Munich Blood Bank) for their cooperation in blood sampling. The project was funded by a grant of the Bavarian State Ministry of Environment, Health and Consumer Protection.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Fromme
    • 1
  • O. Midasch
    • 2
  • D. Twardella
    • 1
  • J. Angerer
    • 2
  • S. Boehmer
    • 1
  • B. Liebl
    • 3
  1. 1.Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority, Department of Environmental HealthOberschleissheimGermany
  2. 2.Institute and Outpatient Clinic of Occupational, Social and Environmental MedicineUniversity of Erlangen-NurembergErlangenGermany
  3. 3.Bavarian State Ministry of Environment, Health and Consumer ProtectionMunichGermany

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