PFAS in the U.S. Population

A mature father with a small toddler son outdoors fishing by a lake.

Most people in the United States have been exposed to PFAS and have PFAS in their blood, especially perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has measured blood PFAS in the U.S. population since 1999-2000. NHANES is a program of studies designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the health and nutrition of adults and children in the United States. NHANES data are publicly released in 2-year cycles.

Since 2002, production and use of PFOS and PFOA in the United States have declined. As the use of some PFAS has declined, some blood PFAS levels have gone down as well.

  • From 1999-2000 to 2017-2018, blood PFOS levels declined by more than 85%.
  • From 1999-2000 to 2017-2018, blood PFOA levels declined by more than 70%.

However, as PFOS and PFOA are phased out and replaced, people may be exposed to other PFAS. 

Biomonitoring Studies

Biomonitoring studies have measured PFAS levels in other groups:

  • Workers in PFAS manufacturing facilities
  • Communities with contaminated drinking water
  • The general U.S. population
Blood Levels of the Most Common PFAS in People in the United States Over Time
Chart shows declining average blood levels of PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS, and PFNA in the U.S. from NHANES cycle 1999-2000 to 2017-2018.

* Average = geometric mean
Data Source
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Biomonitoring Data Tables for Environmental Chemicals. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The figures below show PFOA, PFOS, and PFHxS blood levels measured in different exposed populations, compared to levels CDC measured in the general U.S. population in 1999-2000, 2015-2016, and 2017-2018. ATSDR biomonitoring information is also available through PFAS exposure assessments.

Chart shows average blood level of PFOA in various biomonitoring studies. Worker studies from the 1990s showed highest levels.
Chart shows average blood level of PFOS in various biomonitoring studies. Worker studies from the 1990s showed highest levels.
Chart shows average blood level of PFHxS in various biomonitoring studies. Worker studies from the 1990s showed highest levels.
View Page In: PDF [586K]