Read the full article by Anna Robuck (Massive Science)

“The COVID-19 crisis has been practically defined by uncertainty – uncertainty about its transmission, why it impacts some people more than others, and how to mitigate risk in our daily lives.  

On June 11, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) acknowledged one more uncertainty: we have no idea how a potent family of chemicals, called PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), is impacting our risk for COVID-19. What we do know about PFAS makes this acknowledgement very worrisome. Because of their unique chemical properties that allow them to repel both oil and water, PFAS are everywhere, appearing in Teflon frying pans, stain-resistant carpeting, outdoor gear, and fire-fighting foam, to name just a few.

PFAS are potent immunotoxicants, meaning they impair immune responses in both humans and animals. Research tells us PFAS reduce vaccine efficacy and antibody response in humans, at concentrations readily found in our blood. This was first documented in a study on efficacy of tetanus and diphtheria vaccines in relation to PFAS levels in children from the Faroe Islands. Infants exposed to high PFAS levels in utero had reduced antibody levels at five years old. With each doubling of PFAS in the children’s blood, the overall antibody response was cut by almost 50%. Some children were found to have antibody levels at age five that clinically qualified them for further vaccination, meaning they weren’t adequately protected from diphtheria or tetanus, even though they had already been vaccinated for these diseases as a baby. 

Further research has confirmed the association between reduced antibody responses and PFAS for multiple diseases, in mice as well as in multiple human populations

The lead author of the Faroe Islands study, Dr. Philippe Grandjean from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, sees the link between PFAS and COVID-19 based on his previous work. ‘Given that PFAS are toxic to the immune system, exposure to these persistent chemicals may well worsen the consequences of a COVID-19 infection. Just like recent studies have shown that areas with more severe air pollution have more severe COVID-19 cases and greater mortality, we should also examine if the same applies to communities with PFAS-contaminated drinking water’…”