Perfluorochemical (PFC) exposure in children: Associations with impaired response inhibition

Brooks B. Gump, Qian Wu, Amy K. Dumas, Kurunthachalam Kannan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Background: Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) have been used widely in consumer products since the 1950s and are currently found at detectable levels in the blood of humans and animals across the globe. In stark contrast to this widespread exposure to PFCs, there is relatively little research on potential adverse health effects of exposure to these chemicals. Objectives: We performed this cross-sectional study to determine if specific blood PFC levels are associated with impaired response inhibition in children. Methods: Blood levels of 11 PFCs were measured in children (N = 83) and 6 PFCs: perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorohexane sulfate (PFHxS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorooctanesulfonamide (PFOSA), and perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) - were found at detectable levels in most children (87.5% or greater had detectable levels). These levels were analyzed in relation to the differential reinforcement of low rates of responding (DRL) task. This task rewards delays between responses (i.e., longer inter-response times; IRTs) and therefore constitutes a measure of response inhibition. Results: Higher levels of blood PFOS, PFNA, PFDA, PFHxS, and PFOSA were associated with significantly shorter IRTs during the DRL task. The magnitude of these associations was such that IRTs during the task decreased by 29-34% for every 1 SD increase in the corresponding blood PFC. Conclusions: This study suggests an association between PFC exposure and children's impulsivity. Although intriguing, there is a need for further investigation and replication with a larger sample of children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8151-8159
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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