PARKERSBURG - In a new report from the C8 Science Panel, a relationship has been found between exposure to the chemical used in the manufacture of Teflon and a delay in the onset of puberty.
Dr. Tony Fletcher, member of the C8 Science Panel, said Thursday the study examined the relationship between levels of PFOA, or C8, and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) measured in the blood serum of 3,076 boys and 2,931 girls in the C8 Health Project and the chance of reaching puberty.
Fletcher said the study and other studies show an association between exposure to PFOA and PFOS and delays in puberty in girls by about four months and between exposure to PFOS and a six-month delay for puberty in boys.
Dr. Tony Fletcher discusses findings by the C8 Science Panel concerning PFOS and puberty.
Fletcher said the results should be viewed with caution.
"Other explanations need to be considered; in particular that the bodily changes associated with puberty could have led to changes in PFOS and PFOA levels in the children's blood serum which then show up as these associations," he said. "Another possibility is that some other factors might be leading to both changes in the age of puberty and differences in PFC uptake."
Fletcher said the panel looked at other potential explanations which included reported smoking, alcohol intake, obesity and household family income.
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Dr. Tony Fletcher, member of the C8 Science Panel, presents the findings in a study on C8 exposure and delayed puberty in children at a press conference Thursday in Parkersburg.
"In no case did taking them into account make any difference to the findings," he said. "But there may be other such causes, and further research is needed."
Fletcher said while the delays noted in the study were small shifts that would not be noticed in individuals, in the total population it is significant.
"There is a concern this could be the tip of the iceberg in effects on natural development and future health concerns," he said.
For Your Information
* Results of a study by the C8 Science Panel on the exposure to C8 and its effects on delaying puberty were released Thursday.
* Researchers found an association between exposure to PFOA and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and delays in puberty in girls by about four months; no association was found in exposure to PFOA and boys.
* An association was found between exposure to PFOS and a six-month delay for puberty in boys.
* DuPont does not manufacture or use PFOS in the Washington Works or any facility.
Girls generally enter puberty between the ages of 10 and 14, Fletcher said, and for boys it is between the ages of 11 and 15.
DuPont spokeswoman Robin Ollis Stemple said the study was designed to look for a statistical association and cannot determine if there is a cause and effect relationship.
In the report it states "caution is needed in interpreting these results due to the fact that blood PFC (PFOA and PFOS) levels and puberty status based on sex hormone levels were determined at the same time and menarche (the first menstrual cycle) was self-reported. For example, it may be that growth changes associated with puberty lead to changes in PFOA and PFOS blood levels, rather than these compounds having any effect on age at puberty."
Fletcher said more study is needed since the findings "may be a chance finding and consistency with findings in other exposed populations will be important for interpretation. Further work is planned to investigate patterns of puberty by age in relation to exposure before puberty, starting and continuing through early life."
Fletcher said the study participants still show the compounds in their blood but the amounts are declining.
"In the local population the levels have fallen sharply from the first batch of tests," he said. "In the same individuals the levels from 2010 are less than half of the levels from 2005."
Better control of emissions and the voluntary phase out of PFOA use in the United States have led to the reduced levels, Fletcher said. He said the efforts have been reflected in levels both locally and nationally.