STEEP researcher Dr. Philippe Grandjean, a professor of environmental medicine at the University of Southern Denmark and adjunct faculty at the in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island, has focused his career on the epidemiological effects of PFAS exposure. In 2010 and 2011, Dr. Grandjean engaged a cohort of children in the Faroe Islands in an effort to see if PFAS exposure in their environment could alter immune system responses to vaccines administered during childhood. Grandjean and colleagues found higher levels of PFAS in the blood samples collected from Faroese children were associated with reduced vaccine efficacy.
Results similar to these reported by Grandjean continue to raise concern for populations beyond the Faroe Islands and hit home for children in the U.S. as well. The presence of PFAS in the blood of U.S. children are comparable to those in the Faroe Island cohort previously studied. Grandjean draws emphasis that the altered immune system response resonates in U.S. data, showing higher blood levels of PFAS are associated with higher rates of infection.