These manufactured chemicals, called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are not biodegradable. People are exposed to them through contaminated soil, food, water and air.
“The kidneys are very sensitive organs, particularly when it comes to environmental toxins that can get in our bloodstream,” said study author Dr. John Stanifer of Duke University in Durham, N.C.
“Because so many people are exposed to these PFAS chemicals, and to the newer, increasingly produced alternative PFAS agents such as GenX, it is critical to understand if and how these chemicals may contribute to kidney disease,” Stanifer said.
Analyzing 74 studies on PFAS, the researchers found the chemicals are associated with poorer kidney function and other kidney problems. They said it’s particularly concerning that children have greater exposure to these chemicals than adults.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says PFAS can be found in food packaging; stain- and water-repellent fabrics; nonstick cookware; polishes, waxes, paints and cleaning products; and firefighting foams. In fish, animals and humans, PFAS have the ability to build up and persist over time.
The study appears in the Sept. 13 issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
“By searching all the known studies published on the topic, we concluded that there are several potential ways in which these chemicals can cause kidney damage,” Stanifer said in a journal news release.
“Further, we discovered that there have already been multiple reports suggesting that these chemicals are associated with worse kidney outcomes,” he added.