Read the full article by Jon Hurdle (NJ Spotlight)

“A new compilation of research into how toxic PFAS chemicals affect the human immune system finds suppressed immune function, lower vaccine effectiveness, hypersensitivity and greater risk of autoimmune diseases.

Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that advocates for tighter curbs on the chemicals nationwide, reviewed previously published research, and found evidence that PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) — which are widespread in New Jersey — impair the body’s ability to fight infections, especially among children.

The studies include one from the National Toxicology Program which concluded in 2016 that there was a ‘high level of evidence‘ that the chemicals PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid), two of the most widely studied of the PFAS family, suppress antibody response, based on animal testing.

This month, a study of 237 African children found their antibody response to the measles vaccine was reduced by about a quarter among those who had been exposed to even low levels of PFOA and PFOS.

‘The developing immune system may be particularly vulnerable to immunotoxicity in the earliest stages of life, so it is essential to protect children’s health from PFAS during that time,’ EWG said in a statement…

In adults, the presence of PFAS chemicals in the blood was associated with a decreased response to influenza shots and tetanus-diphtheria boosters, according to another study in 2014.

In New Jersey, environmental officials have adopted the nation’s strictest drinking-water standard on PFNA — another PFAS chemical — and are in the process of imposing similarly tough standards for PFOA and PFOS, chemicals that have been found in the Garden State more often and in higher concentrations than in many other places.

Apart from cancer, immune system effects were the most sensitive to the chemicals of a range of health conditions studied, Department of Environmental Protection scientists concluded in their study recommending an enforceable health limit for PFOS in June 2018.

That paper argued for setting a health-based maximum contaminant limit (MCL) in light of PFOS toxicity shown by animal studies, together with evidence of its effects on humans, and its resistance to environmental breakdown…

A paper by Harvard University researcher Philippe Grandjean in 2018 accused U.S. public health authorities of failing to regulate the chemicals over many years despite growing evidence that they were associated with immunotoxicity and a range of illnesses.

And it urged regulators to ensure the safety of a new generation of PFAS chemicals manufactured by the ‘GenX’ technology that are replacing chemicals like PFOA as more becomes known about the toxicity of the latter.

‘Given the substantial delays in discovery of PFAS toxicity, in dissemination of findings, and in regulatory decisions, PFAS substitutes and other persistent industrial chemicals should be subjected to prior scrutiny before widespread usage,’ the paper said.”