Document Type



June 2011


Epidemiology | Health Psychology | Public Health


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.

Additional Information

Reprinted with permission from: Perfluorochemical (PFC) Exposure in Children: Associations with Impaired Response Inhibition Brooks B. Gump, Qian Wu, Amy K. Dumas, and Kurunthachalam Kannan Environmental Science & Technology 2011 45 (19), 8151-8159. Copyright 2011 American Chemical Society.