Everyday goods containing perfluorinated compounds or PFCs may make vaccines non-effective
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found vaccines in children may not work when they are exposed to PFCs which come from food packing, microwave popcorn bags, non-stick cookware, stain resistant carpet and other everyday common products.
The greater the PFCs amount in the blood stream had a less likely chance of having a response to routine vaccines.
For the study, researchers had concentrated on PFCs in which are in use by the hundreds. “When the PFC concentration increases in the body, the immune system gets more sluggish and is less capable of maintaining a defense mechanism against microorganisms”, according to Dr. Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health and lead author of study at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
Dr. Grandjean does note that even though the findings did not prove the chemicals themselves are harming the immune system his thought is it is very likely in this case.
This is the first study to associate PFCs to immune issues in children.
Due to the fact that the compounds are water and grease resistant and are used in household products like the coating on paper plates among other uses they could be absorbed through food, water and even dust from treated textiles.
In past years research have concentrated on possible health hazards associated to PFCs. Some research has associated PFC exposure to higher cholesterol as an example. In 2011, a report had discovered that six out of ten paper bags and cardboard box used in food packaging had contained these chemicals.
In this study, researchers had followed a group of around 600 children from the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic Ocean. They were tracked from before birth to the age of seven. Researchers associated their blood levels of PFCs to their response in routine vaccines of diphtheria and tetanus.
Researchers discovered a doubling in mother's blood levels of a common type of PFC called PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) correlated to a 39% decrease in the diphtheria antibody concentration of their children at age five.
Alike findings had been found for antibodies against both diphtheria and tetanus based on blood samples directly from the children. For example, at the age of seven, a doubling of a child's PFC levels correlated to halving of antibodies. Many of the children had less antibodies than what is considered necessary to protect them against infections.
Dr. Grandjean had told Reuters Health, that at the age of seven which is two years after the last immunization almost ten percent of the kids were below that level. Meaning they will positively not be protected long term.
The EPA states that PFCs are toxic to laboratory animals and wildlife, producing reproductive, developmental and systemic effects in laboratory tests. However, to date PFCs have not been shown to pose a significant threat to the human population in general.
Dr. Grandjean related to WebMD that a study like this needs to be repeated. The study finds an association, It does not prove cause and effect.
Dr. Olga Naidenko, PhD, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group and a degree in immunology, had reviewed the studies findings for WebMD but was not part of the study, had stated that even though the study had been conducted in the Faroe Islands, "I would feel comfortable saying this study has direct implications for U.S. children's health."
Spokesperson Marie Francis for the American Chemistry Council had noted to WebMD they are reviewing the study and it needs to be replicated. That their companies work with the EPA and have made remarked progress in advancing new chemistry that are substitutes for the older chemicals evaluated in the study.
Dr. Ross of the American Council on Science and Health stated the study has 'no clinical significance whatsoever."
Dr. Grandjean had noted where the chemicals in the children's blood had come from is somewhat unclear. With that reason in mind any type of advice and guidance for protection against PFCs are linked with some uncertainty. Regardless, he does recommend to avoid microwave popcorn, furniture, carpet, shoes and clothing treated with stain resistant repellent. Lubricants for skis and ski boards unless labeled PFC free. To vacuum frequently since PFCs are found in household dust.
The Environmental Working Group also advises to avoid PFCs use plates instead of paper plates. Select personal care products without PTFE or perfluoro in the ingredients.
If personal care products that do not contain “PTFE” or “perfluoro in the ingredients you can check EWG's Skin Deep at cosmeticsdatabase.com for safer choices.
Purchase fresh and organic foods which do not come with excess plastic and cardboard packaging.