Regular Blood or Plasma Donation May Reduce PFAS Levels in Blood Serum

April 26, 2022

Regular blood or plasma donation may help reduce levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in the blood, according to findings published recently in JAMA Open Network.

PFAS are a diverse group of human-made chemicals used in a wide range of consumer and industrial products. Some PFAS have been shown to accumulate in the human body and, according to the Food and Drug Administration, have been linked to serious health effects. Firefighters, in particular, are frequently exposed to PFASs in firefighting foams and, in blood samples, they have been shown to have higher PFAS levels than the general population.

To examine the effect of blood or plasma donation on PFAS levels, investigators in Australia randomly assigned 285 firefighters with a baseline perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) serum level of 5 ng/mL to donate blood, plasma or be observed for 12 months.

Each group included 95 patients. Patients in the plasma group donated every 6 weeks, while patients in the blood group donated every 12 weeks. The primary endpoints were changes in the serum PFOS and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) levels after 12 months. (PFOS and PFHxS are both commonly found in firefighting foam.)

At the end of the study period, patients in the plasma group saw a 2.9 ng/mL decrease in the mean PFOS level, while patients in the blood donation group had an average decrease of 1.1 ng/mL; the mean PFOS level was unchanged in the observation group.

Only plasma donation appeared to reduce PFHxS levels. Following regular plasma donation, the mean PFHxS level decreased by 1.1 ng/mL, but investigators observed no significant change in the blood donation or observation groups.

According to the researchers, the results demonstrate that plasma donation has a larger treatment effect than blood donation, but both are significantly more efficacious than observation in reducing PFAS levels. They concluded that further research is needed to evaluate the clinical implications of these findings.