FLUOREX - Exposure assessment of perfluoroalkyl substances as follow-up on the concerns raised in the recent draft opinion of EFSA

Last updated on 25-6-2021 by Jill Alexandre

In short

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are man-made chemicals that have been used for a variety of applications (e.g. textiles, household products, fire-fighting, automotive, food processing, construction, electronics, etc.). Due to their persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic character, exposure to these chemicals may lead to adverse health effects. This project provides information on the occurrence data and dietary exposure of the Belgian population to four PFASs. Furthermore, sources of PFASs contamination in food chain will be identified, so that, if necessary, actions can be taken to reduce/eliminate these sources. 

Project summary

In 2018, EFSA evaluated two Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) (i.e.perfluorooctane sulfonates (PFOS) and perfluoro octanoic acid (PFOA)) and derived separate tolerable weekly intakes (TWIs) for these compounds based on effects observed in humans. In 2020, the risk assessment was extended to the sum of four PFASs (i.e. PFOS, PFOA, Perfluoro-nanoic acid (PFNA), Perfluoro hexanesulphonic acid (PFHxS)) due to similar effects in animals, toxicokinetics and observed levels in human blood. As a result, a new safety threshold, TWI, of 4.4 ng/kg body weight (bw)/week was established. Since an exposure of 12 ng/kg bw/week for the sum of PFOA and PFOS was determined for the Belgian population in 2007-2010, this  should urgently be re-evaluated. 
First, an analytical method with sufficient sensitivity is developed and validated that can afterwards be applied for the analysis of food samples representative for the diet of the Belgian population. Next, the obtained concentration data is combined with consumption data of the latest Food Consumption Survey (FCS2014) in order to assess the dietary exposure. With this project, the Belgian government obtains information on the presence and concentrations of broad range of PFASs in food. This data allows updated exposure assessment for the sum of PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS and PFOA

Furthermore, this project evaluates the contamination sources and applies a more in-depth investigation of the contribution of food contact material (FCM). As a result, specific migration limits could be proposed that could afterwards be used by FASFC to evaluate compliance of the FCM present on the Belgian market.

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