They are in the air. They are in the water. They are in the food we eat. And now they are in our blood. These are perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) or “forever” chemicals that make up the plastic and never degrade. They have been linked to numerous health problems: they pollute the delicate balance of the intestinal microbiota, cause asthma and other lung diseases, and are now found in our bloodstream, where it is difficult to leave. rid.
A new study has now revealed that regular blood donation can cleanse the bloodstream of PFAS, a finding that marks the first time we have understood how to rid the body of chemicals that have entered forever.
The research, published in JAMA Network Open, involved 285 Australian firefighters who donated blood and plasma for 12 months. Firefighters are exposed to more PFAS than the average person, making this a perfect case study for research.
The firefighters were divided into three groups: one would donate plasma every six weeks, one would donate blood every 12 weeks and one would simply be under observation.
Firefighters tell us “we don’t want these chemicals in our bodies, we don’t want to be guinea pigs to see what’s going to happen to us in 10, 20, 30 years. Let’s get them out.”
Plasma donation was the most effective intervention, reducing mean serum perfluorooctane sulfonate levels by 2.9 ng/mL, compared to a reduction of 1.1 ng/mL with blood donation, a significant difference; similar changes have been observed with other PFAS
Mark Taylor, co-author of the study.
In other words, plasma donation was found to be more effective than blood donation, although both were effective in reducing the total amount of chemicals in the blood. This is significant: so far, no other intervention has worked to reduce PFAS in the blood.
PFAS are ubiquitous: they are used in a variety of non-stick cookware, waterproof and other materials for their heat and water resistance. There are thousands of chemicals in the PFAS family; with very little regulation to control its use.
However, the utility costs are high: in addition to being identified as potentially carcinogenic, PFAS are associated with “low fetal weight, impaired immune response, abnormal thyroid function, obesity, increased lipid levels, abnormal liver function, and potentially increased risk of certain malignancies“.
The petrochemical industry is largely responsible for PFAS what we see, touch and breathe. Worried about increasing regulations, industries are turning to “more permissive regimeslike India, Brazil and China. There is no longer any place on Earth that is not contaminated with PFAS, but some populations are more at risk of contamination than others.
The logic of its elimination is simple: PFAS act by binding to blood serum proteins; therefore, the removal of some of this blood would lead to the forever reduction of chemicals in the blood. As for the question of what happens to recipients of this blood:Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances are ubiquitous, and no threshold has been identified that poses an increased risk for recipients of donated blood components“.
Although more research is needed to see if simply drawing blood or plasma at regular intervals can be an effective long-term solution, the research highlights the alarming rate of contamination with these chemicals.
And while interventions to remove them from the blood are crucial, so are regulations to ensure they don’t enter it in the first place.
More information: jamanetwork.com (text in English).