C8 and related chemicals used in nonstick pans and stain-resistant fabrics have been found in human breast milk, according to the first major U.S. study to examine breast-feeding as a possible exposure route.
Perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, were found in all of the 45 human breast milk samples tested in the new study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology.
Toxicologist Kathleen Arcaro of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and other researchers tested the milk as part of Arcaro's ongoing investigation of links between environmental exposures and breast cancer.
It's one of several sources of contamination
"While nursing does not expose infants to a dose that exceeds recommended limits, breast milk should be considered as an additional source of PFCs when determining a child's total exposure," Arcaro said in a news release issued by her university.
In West Virginia, C8 is a major issue because the water supplies for thousands of Parkersburg-area residents have been contaminated with the toxic chemical.
Around the world, researchers are finding that people have C8 and other PFCs in their blood in low levels. Evidence is mounting about the chemical's dangerous effects, but U.S. regulators have not set a federal standard for emissions or human exposure.
Scientists are still sorting out how humans are exposed, but previous studies have examined Teflon pans, food and food packaging, and household dust as potential routes.