Determinants of fetal exposure to polyfluoroalkyl compounds in Baltimore, Maryland

Benjamin Apelberg, Lynn R. Goldman, Antonia M. Calafat, Julie B. Herbstman, Zsuzsanna Kuklenyik, Jochen Heidler, Larry L. Needham, Rolf U. Halden, Frank R. Witter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Scopus citations


Polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs), such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), are ubiquitous, man-made chemicals. Human data suggest that in utero exposures to these chemicals occur and some evidence of developmental toxicity in animals exists. To assess the distribution and determinants of fetal exposure to PFCs, we analyzed cord serum samples from 299 singleton newborns delivered between 2004 and 2005 in Baltimore, MD for 10 PFCs by employing on-line solid-phase extraction coupled with reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. PFOS and PFOA were detected in 99 and 100% of umbilical cord sera, with geometric mean concentrations of 4.9 and 1.6 ng/mL, respectively. PFOS and PFOA concentrations were highly correlated (Pearson's r = 0.64 after natural log transformation, p < 0.01). Eight other PFCs were detected less frequently and at lower concentrations than PFOS and PFOA. Geometric mean concentrations of PFOS for Asians (6.0 ng/mL) and Blacks (5.1 ng/mL) were higher than those for Whites (4.2 ng/mL), while PFOA levels were more evenly distributed by race. Other maternal demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, including age, education, marital status, and living in the city limits were not significantly associated with cord concentrations. Our findings suggest that in utero exposure to PFOS and PFOA is ubiquitous in a population of babies born in Baltimore, MD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3891-3897
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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