PFAS levels and determinants of variability in exposure in European teenagers – Results from the HBM4EU aligned studies (2014–2021)

D. Richterová, E. Govarts, L. Fábelová, K. Rausová, L. Rodriguez Martin, L. Gilles, S. Remy, A. Colles, L. Rambaud, M. Riou, C. Gabriel, D. Sarigiannis, S. Pedraza-Diaz, J. J. Ramos, T. Kosjek, J. Snoj Tratnik, S. Lignell, I. Gyllenhammar, C. Thomsen, L. S. HaugM. Kolossa-Gehring, N. Vogel, C. Franken, N. Vanlarebeke, L. Bruckers, L. Stewart, O. Sepai, G. Schoeters, M. Uhl, A. Castaño, M. Esteban López, T. Göen, Murínová Palkovičová Murínová*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made fluorinated chemicals, widely used in various types of consumer products, resulting in their omnipresence in human populations. The aim of this study was to describe current PFAS levels in European teenagers and to investigate the determinants of serum/plasma concentrations in this specific age group. Methods: PFAS concentrations were determined in serum or plasma samples from 1957 teenagers (12–18 years) from 9 European countries as part of the HBM4EU aligned studies (2014–2021). Questionnaire data were post-harmonized by each study and quality checked centrally. Only PFAS with an overall quantification frequency of at least 60% (PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS and PFNA) were included in the analyses. Sociodemographic and lifestyle factors were analysed together with food consumption frequencies to identify determinants of PFAS exposure. The variables study, sex and the highest educational level of household were included as fixed factors in the multivariable linear regression models for all PFAS and each dietary variable was added to the fixed model one by one and for each PFAS separately. Results: The European exposure values for PFAS were reported as geometric means with 95% confidence intervals (CI): PFOS [2.13 μg/L (1.63–2.78)], PFOA ([0.97 μg/L (0.75–1.26)]), PFNA [0.30 μg/L (0.19–0.45)] and PFHxS [0.41 μg/L (0.33–0.52)]. The estimated geometric mean exposure levels were significantly higher in the North and West versus the South and East of Europe. Boys had significantly higher concentrations of the four PFAS compared to girls and significantly higher PFASs concentrations were found in teenagers from households with a higher education level. Consumption of seafood and fish at least 2 times per week was significantly associated with 21% (95% CI: 12–31%) increase in PFOS concentrations and 20% (95% CI: 10–31%) increase in PFNA concentrations as compared to less frequent consumption of seafood and fish. The same trend was observed for PFOA and PFHxS but not statistically significant. Consumption of eggs at least 2 times per week was associated with 11% (95% CI: 2–22%) and 14% (95% CI: 2–27%) increase in PFOS and PFNA concentrations, respectively, as compared to less frequent consumption of eggs. Significantly higher PFOS concentrations were observed for participants consuming offal (14% (95% CI: 3–26%)), the same trend was observed for the other PFAS but not statistically significant. Local food consumption at least 2 times per week was associated with 40% (95% CI: 19–64%) increase in PFOS levels as compared to those consuming local food less frequently. Conclusion: This work provides information about current levels of PFAS in European teenagers and potential dietary sources of exposure to PFAS in European teenagers. These results can be of use for targeted monitoring of PFAS in food.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114057
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

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  • Adolescents
  • Determinants
  • Exposure
  • Food consumption
  • HBM4EU
  • Perfluoroalkyl substances


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