PFAS may target bones, according to STEEP research

Environmental exposures to industrial chemicals, including perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), may play a role in bone development and future risk of osteoporosis. Researchers from the STEEP team estimated associations between PFAS concentrations measured in infancy and early childhood and bone mineral density measured at age 9 years in a birth cohort of children from the Faroe Islands.

Research measured concentrations of five PFAS chains in cord serum and serum collected at 18 months, 5 years and 9 years, and conducted whole-body bone density scans at the 9-year clinical visit. We found PFAS exposures in childhood to be negatively associated with bone density, with the strongest association seen for perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) at age 5 years. Results also suggested that any potential associations between bone density and 18-month PFAS concentrations may be mediated by total body fat and BMI, although most estimated total effects for PFAS exposures at age 18 months were non-significant. PFAS exposures at age 9 were not found to be associated with age-9 bone density.

Pediatric bone density has been demonstrated to strongly track through young adulthood and possibly beyond; therefore, these prospective results may have important public health implications.