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Perfluoroalkyl Acids Including Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Perfluorohexane Sulfonate in Firefighters

Jin, ChuanFang MD, MPH; Sun, YingHua MS; Islam, Ahmed BS; Qian, Yong PhD; Ducatman, Alan MD, MS

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 3 - p 324–328
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31820d1314
Original Articles

Objective: Firefighters were likely exposed to perfluorooctane sulfonate since it was a component of extinguishing foams and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), a surfactant coating carpet and other building materials, during firefighting. The objective of the study is to evaluate serum concentrations of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in firefighters.

Methods: A total of 8826 male adults, including 37 firefighters, were analyzed. Multivariate analysis was conducted by using a general linear model. The least square mean of serum PFAAs was obtained after adjustment for demographic and socioeconomic variables.

Results: Serum concentration of PFHxS was statistically higher in firefighters both before and after adjustment. Perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorononanoic acid were also found higher in firefighters, though not statistically significant.

Conclusions: The study suggests that fighting fire can be a risk of exposure to PFAAs, specifically PFHxS.

From the Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health and West Virginia University School of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine, Morgantown (Drs Jin and Ducatman); Quality Insights of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh (Mr Sun); Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Mr Islam); and Pathology and Physiology Research Branch, Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, WVa (Dr Qian).

Address correspondence to: ChuanFang Jin, MD, MPH, West Virginia University School of Medicine, Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, PO Box 9190, Morgantown, WV 26506; E-mail:

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine