Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are synthetic compounds used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer products because of their resistance to heat and unique surfactant properties. Uses include nonstick products, such as Teflon, stain- and water-resistant materials, paints, and firefighting foams.
Perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are commonly detected in human biomonitoring studies.
These substances can persist in the environment and accumulate in the human body, where they have a prolonged half-life of about 5 years.
They have been associated with adverse health effects, including low fetal weight, impaired immune response, thyroid function abnormalities, obesity, increased lipid levels, liver function alterations, and potentially, an increased risk of cancer.
The logic behind trying to remove PFAS is simple, they work by binding to serum proteins in the blood, and removing some of this blood, therefore, would lead to a reduction of forever chemicals in the bloodstream.
In a recent study, researchers evaluated the effect of blood or plasma donations on PFAS levels in a group of firefighters in Australia.
Blood Donations Can Decrease PFAS Levels
The study included a total of 285 firefighters with a baseline level of 5 ng/mL PFOS or more that were randomly assigned to donate plasma every 6 weeks for 12 months, donate blood every 12 weeks for 12 months, or be observed only.
The researchers observed changes in the serum PFOS and PFHxS levels after 12 months for each group and found that the mean levels of PFOS at 12 months were significantly reduced by plasma donation, with a reduction of 2.9 ng/mL, and blood donation, with a 1.1 ng/mL reduction. The control group didn’t have changes in the levels of PFOS and PFHxS.
Further studies are needed to investigate the clinical effects of reducing PFAS levels and to define the cohorts who would benefit most from these interventions.
Robin Gasiorowski, et al. Effect of Plasma and Blood Donations on Levels of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Firefighters in Australia. 2022. JAMA Netw Open. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.6257