European teenagers are high – on PFAS


Teenagers in Europe have high levels of PFAS in their blood, especially Swedish, French and Norwegian ones, an EU human biomonitoring study shows. The reason for these high levels? A large intake of egg, fish, animal intestines – and locally produced food.

PFAS are ubiquitous and can be found in nearly all living humans, including young children and teenagers. According to a large-scale human biomonitoring study, HBM4EU, PFAS has been found in the blood of teenagers in all nine of the examined European countries. Over 14 percent of the samples exceeded the health guidelines from the European Food and Safety Authority, EFSA.

One out of the nine countries meet the health recommendation

Many different chemicals have been assessed in a wide range of age groups within the HBM4EU project. When it comes to teenagers and PFAS specifically, samples were collected from 2.000 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18, in nine countries between 2014 and 2021: Norway, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Greece, Spain, Germany, France, and Belgium.

Out of these countries, Sweden’s teenagers had the highest levels of PFAS in their blood: 12.31 micrograms per liter. French teenagers took second place with 11.26 micrograms per liter, and Norway placed third, with 10.83 micrograms per liter.

Only in one of the examined countries did teenagers have lower levels of PFAS in their blood than the EFSA health recommendation of 6.9 micrograms per liter: Spain, with 5.09 micrograms per liter.

Locally produced food largest influencing factor

Dr. Maria Uhl is a toxicologist at Umweltbundesamt Laboratories at the Environment Agency in Austria. Within the HBM4EU project, she has been Chemical Group Lead for PFAS.

“We found a couple of determinants when it comes to what affects the levels of PFAS in teenagers. Those were a higher consumption of fish, egg, and offal [animal entrails and intestines, editor’s note], and also locally produced food”, she says.

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Chemsec, 30-06-22