New Method Estimates Risks of Hormone-Disrupting Substances in Drinking Water


Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have developed a new method that can make it easier for public authorities to assess the health risks of hormone-disrupting chemicals in the environment.

The method was used to evaluate the risk associated with exposure data from the population of Ronneby in Sweden where the drinking water had been contaminated with PFAS from fire-fighting foam. The study, which was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, shows that women are particularly at risk of decreased levels of thyroid hormone T3 (triiodothyronine) related to PFAS-contaminated drinking water.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) can be found in everything from ski wax to frying pans and fire-fighting foam. They are highly persistent and damaging to both human health and the environment. Amongst other effects, PFAS can cause weakened immune systems, lower birth weights and alter thyroid levels. At several places around the country, especially near fire-drill sites, high concentrations of PFAS have been found in the drinking water. There is therefore a pressing need to explore the health risks to which the local populations are exposed.

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