CDC/ATSDR PFAS Related Activities

Exposure to PFAS is an important public health concern. CDC/ATSDR is helping our local, territorial, tribal, state, and Federal partners to address increasing concerns. Over the last decade, interest in PFAS has been growing. ATSDR and our state health partners are investigating exposure to and possible health effects associated with PFAS in more than 30 communities across the United States.

Many sites are related to drinking water contamination connected with PFAS production facilities or fire training areas where aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) was regularly used. ATSDR’s overarching approach focuses on assessing and reducing/eliminating community PFAS exposures including: (1) addressing community health concerns related to existing or previous PFAS exposures, (2) supporting action on the basis of scientific information, and (3) conducting health studies on exposure and health endpoints to provide actionable information to communities and health care providers.

Multi-Site Health Study – PFAS Cooperative Agreement

New! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) are soliciting research applications to conduct a multi-site study on the human health effects of exposures to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) through drinking water. The goal of the health study is to learn more about the relationship between PFAS exposure and health outcomes among differing populations. This project will expand the science about the relationships between PFAS exposure and certain health outcomes, and will help people understand their risk for health effects.

ATSDR expects to establish cooperative agreements with up to six recipients, with awards ranging from $500,000 to $3 million per recipient. Applications must be submitted electronically no later than 5:00 p.m., ET, on May 30, 2019. Information on how to apply is at www.grants.govExternal

This draft protocol representing the core research is undergoing review. All recipients must follow the final protocol to conduct the research at their sites. The final protocol will be posted on this site at a later date.

Expected Outcomes of the Multi-Site Health Study

CDC/ATSDR’s upcoming multi-site study is going to look at specific health endpoints, such as lipid metabolism, kidney function, thyroid disease, liver disease, glycemic parameters and diabetes, as well as immune response. CDC/ATSDR will also collect information about cancers, but due to the sample size of the study it is unlikely that CDC/ATSDR will be able to effectively evaluate the relationship between PFAS exposure and cancer. The multi-site study seeks to enroll 6000 adults and 2000 children. To look at cancer outcomes, a study would need to enroll many times those numbers.

While it’s not part of the health study at this point, CDC/ATSDR understands that addressing cancer health endpoints are a major concern for some community members and are continuing to consider other possibilities to look at cancer endpoints. CDC/ATSDR is looking into conducting an analysis using previously collected data to look for a correlation between PFAS exposure and cancer, but planning for this analysis is still in the early stages.

The information about the relationship between PFAS exposure and health outcomes can be applied to communities across the nation, including those that are not selected as a site.

Understanding the relationship between exposure and health outcomes will allow communities and governmental agencies to make better decisions about how to protect public health.

Individuals will be better prepared to follow-up with health care providers and monitor their health.

Exposure Assessments

CDC/ATSDR will assess exposure in at least eight communities. These assessments will

  • Measure PFAS levels in blood and urine of community members exposed to contaminated drinking water
  • Compare results from each community to PFAS levels in the general U.S. population
  • Identify and assess environmental factors that affect exposure
Expected Outcomes of the Exposure Assessments

The exposure assessments will provide information to communities and individuals about their PFAS exposures. Within each community, results will be generalizable. This means that the results will help estimate PFAS exposure for community members that were not tested.

The exposure assessments will generate information about the pathways of exposure in the community, which can inform future studies evaluating the impact of PFAS exposure on human health.

Pease Health Study

The Pease Study will look at the association between health outcomes and PFAS exposure to expand the PFAS science base. CDC/ATSDR can evaluate the study procedures and methods of the Pease Study to improve the design of the multi-site health study.

In August 2018, CDC/ATSDR published the Pease study protocol in the Federal Register. We are evaluating public comments to strengthen the study.

Expected Outcomes of the Pease Health Study

Understanding the relationship between exposure and health outcomes can better prepare community members to follow-up with health care providers and monitor their health.

Expanding the science will allow further tailoring of the design of the multi-site health study. Additionally, the Pease Study data will be integrated with data from others sites in the multi-site health study to maximize the impact and provide information to communities across the nation.

PFAS Exposure Assessment Technical Tools (PEATT)

ATSDR developed the PFAS Exposure Assessment Technical Tools (PEATT) to help State, local, tribal, and territorial health departments conduct PFAS biomonitoring activities, with the assumption that drinking water is the primary source of PFAS exposure. The PEATT includes a protocol for statistically-based representative sampling, risk communication materials, questionnaires, and EPA’s water sampling protocol to help characterize PFAS exposure in communities. Upon request, CDC/ATSDR will also provide technical assistance to health departments in developing and carrying out PFAS exposure assessments.

Through a cooperative agreement between CDC/ATSDR and the Association of State and Territorial Health OfficialsExternal, the Pennsylvania Department of HealthExternal and the New York State Department of Health were provided funding to implement and evaluate CDC/ATSDR’s PEATT with the goal of improving the PEATT as a tool for states and territories to use when measuring and evaluating community exposures to PFAS in drinking water. The PEATT implementation and evaluation will ultimately contribute to the overall body of knowledge and refine what is needed to describe exposure in a community.

Page last reviewed: April 16, 2019