Superfund Research Program

March 2023

children fishingThe Faroe Islands, with a population of about 50,000, are exposed to PFAS through consumer products and whale meat. (Photo courtesy of University of Rhode Island SRP Center)

Researchers at the University of Rhode Island SRP Center and collaborators revealed a link between developmental per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure and reduced bone density in childhood and adolescence.

To understand the impacts of PFAS on bone density, the study leveraged an existing birth cohort — a group of children followed from birth through their lives — in the Faroe Islands, a fishing community west of Norway. No manufacturing of PFAS takes place on the islands, but the community is exposed through consumer products and their traditional diet of whale meat.

“Early PFAS exposures may impact the accrual of bone mass density throughout childhood, which can impact long term risk of osteoporosis,” said study lead Annelise Blomberg, Sc.D. “While further studies are needed to evaluate associations of PFAS exposures with clinical outcomes like fractures, the associations found in this study support the possibility that bone may be a target tissue for developmental PFAS toxicity in humans.”

To learn more about the study, see the Global Environmental Health Newsletter.