However, PFAS have been found to infiltrate many human and natural environments, including drinking water resources, and their long-lasting properties have earned them the nickname "forever chemicals." The recent study analysed PFAS chemicals in 381 blood samples that were part of a randomised European Commission clinical trial focused on weight loss planning for obese adults. Regardless of the diet to which participants were assigned, the study found that they gained weight if they had elevated PFAS exposures in their blood.
In particular, a specific PFAS chemical called PFOA, which is commonly found in contaminated drinking water, demonstrated stronger ties to obesity than other PFAS pollutants. Participants in the European study with higher levels of PFOA in their blood were found to have gained about 10 pounds more than those with low levels after a one-year follow-up. The study results add to the concern that environmental pollution may be affecting people's metabolisms in unknown ways.
The study's results also have significant relevance to the ongoing work of the URI STEEP Superfund Research Center, which aims to build community capacity for responding to PFAS pollution through research, applied science, student education and training, and outreach approaches. The center is committed to ensuring that sound science informs public dialogue about enhancing protections for drinking water supplies and addressing the long-term challenge posed by PFAS.
The study's findings shed light on the role of environmental pollution in affecting metabolism and weight gain, and raise concerns about the impact of PFAS on human health. The researchers urge for continued efforts to reduce PFAS levels in drinking water resources to mitigate the potential health risks associated with these chemicals. As further research is conducted and public policy discussions continue, the hope is that effective measures will be taken to address the issue of PFAS pollution and its potential impact on human health, particularly in relation to obesity and weight gain.