Read the full paper by Katherine E. Pelch, Anna Reade, Carol F. Kwiatkowski, Francheska M. Merced-Nieves, Haleigh Cavalier, Kim Schultz, Taylor Wolffe, and Julia Varshavsky


“Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large class of synthetic chemicals that do not naturally degrade, thus they are continuously accumulating in our environment (Ghisi et al., 2019, Giesy and Kannan, 2001, Kwiatkowski et al., 2020, Pan et al., 2017, Yeung et al., 2017). Some PFAS travel long distances from their source, contributing to global contamination, and some have been found to bioaccumulate in humans and animals. Nearly all people living in the United States have multiple PFAS in their blood (CDC 2018).

PFAS are used in a wide variety of consumer and industrial products and processes (Gluge et al. 2020), for purposes such as grease or water proofing, friction reduction, and as surfactants, emulsifiers, and dispersants. Examples include food packaging and non-stick cookware, cosmetics, waterproof and stain-proof textiles and carpet, aqueous film forming foam to fight Class B fires, and in metal plating and plastic extrusion processes.

Some PFAS, such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), have been thoroughly studied and found to be associated with harmful health effects, including cancer, immune system dysfunction, liver damage, developmental and reproductive harm, and hormone disruption (ATSDR, 2021, Barry et al., 2013, C8 Science Panel, 2011, C8 Science Panel., 2012b, CalEPA, 2021, OEHHA., 2021). The body of evidence for health effects of PFAS is growing rapidly, particularly for PFAS that serve as replacements for PFOA and PFOS, which have been largely phased out in the United States and Europe due to health and environmental concerns. Access to the scientific literature is important for federal and state government agencies, as well as for scientists and impacted communities, to help make informed decisions about PFAS exposure.

This paper describes a systematic evidence map designed to improve scientific, regulatory, and individual access to current evidence regarding the health effects associated with exposure to PFAS beyond the well studied PFOA and PFOS. Using transparent and reproducible methods that are consistent with recent guidance adapted from best practices for systematic review methodology (Whaley et al., 2020, Wolffe et al., 2019), we created an interactive database of references and meta-data extracted from individual health and toxicology studies of PFAS. Our goal was to provide users with the means of exploring the evidence to easily identify studies relevant to their interests and work and trends which might form the basis of future research or further synthesis, such as systematic reviews. The result is a user-friendly, interactive, online resource called the PFAS-Tox Database that supports research and decision making by diverse stakeholders.” …