Cardiometabolic Risk for Teens Exposed Early to PFAS: A NIEHS-Nominated Study

Early exposure to toxic PFAS* chemical compounds (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), including PFOA found in nonstick cookware and thousands of other consumer products, can lead to cardiometabolic defects later in life, according to a new study. This study, incidentally, was one of just four nominated as papers of the month by the prestigious National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 

Study overview

In order to study the effects of PFAS on adolescents, the researchers tracked blood serum levels of four of the most commonly detected PFAS in children from their second gestational semester until age 12. They compared the levels of exposure to cardiometabolic risk factors, such as impaired insulin sensitivity, increased inflammation and increased fat located in the abdomen. 

Results overview

The study findings demonstrated that an increased exposure to a combination of the four common PFAS chemicals during gestation was associated with worsened cardiometabolic health at age 12. Two of those chemicals were especially influential; PFOA, common in nonstick cookware and many other household products, was among them.

What’s next

The research team is currently developing experiments to determine PFAS metabolic markers — chemicals that are positively correlated with PFAS exposure and cardiometabolic risk factors.  Next steps for future studies include determining additional types of PFAS present in children, and testing whether physical activity levels and diet quality would mitigate the impact of PFAS exposure on adolescent cardiometabolic risk.


*PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that are found in a wide range of consumer products including non-stick kitchenware and have been linked to myriad adverse health effects (see previous scientific studies published on this blog, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency).  The chemical bonds of PFAS makes them very resistant to breakdown (thus, they are referred to as “Forever chemicals”), so although the manufacturing of some of these chemicals has been phased out, they can still be found in abundance in food, water and the bodies of living organisms–including humans. 

For more information on the scientific research findings about PFAS chemicals (as well as BPA/BPS, Phthalates and many other chemicals of concern) go to our Blog, scroll down to the search box, and then enter the name of the chemical you are interested in learning more about. You can also contact us for the journal references of scientific studies posted on this blog.

Journal reference:  Nan, L., et al.  Gestational and childhood exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and cardiometabolic risk at age 12 years, Environment International Journal, Science Direct,   Volume 147, February 2021, 106344,   Summary