Lifelong exposure to toxic chemicals may increase COVID risk, studies show
Immunosuppression is one of many negative health effects associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
Today, evidence is emerging that exposure to these toxic chemicals forever can increase a person’s risk of contracting COVID-19 and experiencing a severe or life-threatening case.
“There is clear science and evidence that the immunological response and PFAS are connected and associated – which is why the Covid aspect is so important to pursue,” Christel Nielsen from Sweden’s Lund University told the Guardian.
Nielsen was co-author of a Swedish paper study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in October 2021. Researchers wondered whether or not exposure to PFAS would increase the risk of COVID. PFAS are a class of widely used chemicals that persist in the human body and the environment. They may have the ability to block, mimic or disrupt hormones, thereby reducing immunity. There is also evidence that certain types of PFAS interfere with immunity after vaccination and that exposure can make people more likely to get sick.
The study focused on Ronneby, Sweden, where a third of the population has been exposed to drinking water containing high levels of PFAS for decades. It revealed that the city had a 19% higher COVID-19 infection rate in the first year of the pandemic compared to a neighboring city with less contaminated drinking water, according to The Guardian.
“The results suggest a potential link between elevated PFAS exposure and COVID-19 susceptibility that warrants further research to clarify causation,” the study authors concluded.
The Swedish study is just the latest of four to find a link between PFAS exposure and COVID risk.
The first was published in December 2020 in PLOS A. He looked at PFAS concentrations in the blood of 323 Danish patients with COVID-19 and found that those exposed to a particular PFAS known as perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) were more likely to suffer serious infections.
“If you had PFBA in your blood, you were more likely to go to hospital and stay there longer, to enter intensive care, and to die from the infection,” the co-author said. of the study and professor of environmental health at Harvard, Phillipe Grandjean. The Guardian.
The next study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in March 2021, examined the mortality risk of COVID-19[female[feminine infections in the “red zone” of Italy’s Veneto region. This is an area where drinking water has been contaminated with PFAS for decades. Scientists have found that the region does indeed have a 27% higher COVID death rate, according to The Guardian.
“In conclusion, we observed a higher mortality risk for COVID-19 in a population with high PFAS exposure, which was possibly explained by PFAS immunosuppression, bioaccumulation in lung tissue, or disease. pre-existing disease related to PFAS,” the study authors wrote. .
Finally, a study published in International Environment in August 2021 focused on SPFA-exposed provinces of Shanxi and Shandong in China. The researchers looked at PFAS levels in the urine of 80 COVID-19 patients and 80 people without symptoms. They found a correlation between infection and exposure to perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), as well as PFAS in general.
While all of these studies only show correlation, not causation, they do indicate that PFAS and COVID-19 could very well be a lethal combination.
“This is something that clearly deserves further research,” Nielsen told the Guardian.
Another question Nielsen’s team is also exploring is whether exposure to PFAS might limit the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Grandjean published research in 2012 concluding that children exposed to PFOS and PFOA had up to 50% fewer antibodies after being vaccinated against tetanus and diphtheria, as reported by WHYY.
There are currently three US studies examining the relationship between PFAS exposure and COVID-19 vaccine efficacy.
“Right now, especially with the pandemic and vaccinations on people’s minds, we really want to make sure that vaccines are effective for everyone, especially people who have been heavily exposed to PFAS,” Laurel Schaider, a senior scientist at the Silent Spring Institute who is helping lead one of the studies, told WHYY.