PFAS Exposure Assessments

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CDC and ATSDR recommend protecting public health from the COVID-19 virus by social distancing—keeping a physical distance of at least 6 feet between people and limiting social gatherings. For this reason, CDC and ATSDR are pausing PFAS exposure assessments and related in-person activities. The agency will continue other work to prepare for the time all exposure assessment activities can resume safely.

Please check our website periodically for exposure assessment updates. If you have questions about ATSDR’s PFAS efforts, please send them to our email inbox at and we will respond as quickly as possible.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) will be conducting exposure assessments in communities near current or former military bases and that are known to have had PFAS in their drinking water. The primary goal of these exposure assessments is to provide information to communities about levels of PFAS in their bodies. This information might be used to help inform future studies evaluating the impact of PFAS exposure on human health. People in each of these communities will be randomly selected to participate in these exposure assessments.

PFAS Exposure Assessment

An exposure assessment is a way to look at whether people in a community might have been exposed to a certain type of substance in their environment. People are tested to see whether they have been exposed and answer questions to help identify possible sources. Using this information, public health professionals provide guidance to help people reduce or stop exposure. An exposure assessment does not look at what types of health problems the exposure might cause.

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorized CDC/ATSDR to look at PFAS exposure in communities near current or former military bases and that are known to have had PFAS in their drinking water. These exposure assessments will build upon the CDC/ATSDR-funded PFAS exposure assessment pilot work being done by the Pennsylvania Department of Health in Bucks and Montgomery Counties and by the New York State Department of Health in Westhampton.

How the Exposure Assessments will Help Your Community

The exposure assessments will:

  • Lead to a better understanding of environmental factors that affect PFAS exposure. Communities might use this information to reduce PFAS exposure.
  • Produce information that can be used by public health professionals across the nation to help communities impacted by PFAS.
  • Inform future studies looking at the impact of PFAS exposure on human health, such as CDC/ATSDR’s planned multi-site health study.
  • In communities where exposure assessments take place, the exposure assessments will:
    • Give participants information about their individual exposures to PFAS.
    • Help individual participants and their communities better understand their exposure to PFAS.
    • Provide information that communities can use to reduce PFAS exposure.
Page last reviewed: April 3, 2020