Immune System


Common Chemical May Affect Children’s Immune Systems

Pizza boxes are often coated with PFCs to repel water or grease. (Eddie Welker: Flickr)

Pizza boxes are one consumer product often coated with PFCs to repel water and grease. (Eddie Welker: Flickr)

Perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, have been used for decades. This class of chemicals has both industrial and consumer uses, including in fast food wrappers, pizza boxes and stain-resistant clothing. In a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers looked at children and found that higher levels of PFCs were associated with lower antibody response to routine immunizations, including diphtheria and tetanus.

PFCs are so ubiquitous … “you can find them in polar bears.”
Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health led the team that looked at more than 600 children. Researchers looked at how children responded to vaccines, because the antibodies produced in response to vaccination can be easily measured and are a marker for immune system function. Researchers also quantified PFC levels. “What we saw was that the children did not quite react the way we wanted them to to the vaccines,” he said in an interview. “The higher the exposure to the PFCs, the lower the antibody reaction in the blood.” Continue reading