Risk to human health related to the presence of perfluoroalkyl substances in food

Dieter Schrenk, Margherita Bignami, Laurent Bodin, James Kevin Chipman, Jesús del Mazo, Bettina Grasl-Kraupp, Christer Hogstrand, Laurentius Hoogenboom, Jean Charles Leblanc, Carlo Stefano Nebbia, Elsa Nielsen, Evangelia Ntzani, Annette Petersen, Salomon Sand, Christiane Vleminckx, Heather Wallace, Lars Barregård, Sandra Ceccatelli, Jean Pierre Cravedi, Thorhallur Ingi HalldorssonLine Småstuen Haug, Niklas Johansson, Helle Katrine Knutsen, Martin Rose, Alain Claude Roudot, Henk Van Loveren, Günter Vollmer, Karen Mackay, Francesca Riolo, Tanja Schwerdtle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

386 Citations (Scopus)


The European Commission asked EFSA for a scientific evaluation on the risks to human health related to the presence of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in food. Based on several similar effects in animals, toxicokinetics and observed concentrations in human blood, the CONTAM Panel decided to perform the assessment for the sum of four PFASs: PFOA, PFNA, PFHxS and PFOS. These made up half of the lower bound (LB) exposure to those PFASs with available occurrence data, the remaining contribution being primarily from PFASs with short half-lives. Equal potencies were assumed for the four PFASs included in the assessment. The mean LB exposure in adolescents and adult age groups ranged from 3 to 22, the 95th percentile from 9 to 70 ng/kg body weight (bw) per week. Toddlers and ‘other children’ showed a twofold higher exposure. Upper bound exposure was 4- to 49-fold higher than LB levels, but the latter were considered more reliable. ‘Fish meat’, ‘Fruit and fruit products’ and ‘Eggs and egg products’ contributed most to the exposure. Based on available studies in animals and humans, effects on the immune system were considered the most critical for the risk assessment. From a human study, a lowest BMDL10 of 17.5 ng/mL for the sum of the four PFASs in serum was identified for 1-year-old children. Using PBPK modelling, this serum level of 17.5 ng/mL in children was estimated to correspond to long-term maternal exposure of 0.63 ng/kg bw per day. Since accumulation over time is important, a tolerable weekly intake (TWI) of 4.4 ng/kg bw per week was established. This TWI also protects against other potential adverse effects observed in humans. Based on the estimated LB exposure, but also reported serum levels, the CONTAM Panel concluded that parts of the European population exceed this TWI, which is of concern.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere06223
JournalEFSA Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • exposure
  • food
  • immune system
  • mixtures
  • PBPK
  • PFAS
  • risk assessment


Dive into the research topics of 'Risk to human health related to the presence of perfluoroalkyl substances in food'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • Annexes to the Risk to human health related to the presence of perfluoroalkyl substances in food

    Schrenk, D. (Creator), Bignami, M. (Creator), Bodin, L. (Creator), Chipman, J. K. (Creator), del Mazo, J. (Creator), Grasl-Kraupp, B. (Creator), Hogstrand, C. (Creator), Hoogenboom, R. (Creator), Leblanc, J. (Creator), Nebbia, C. S. (Creator), Nielsen, E. (Creator), Ntzani, E. (Creator), Petersen, A. (Creator), Sand, S. (Creator), Vleminckx, C. (Creator), Wallace, H. (Creator), Barregård, L. (Creator), Ceccatelli, S. (Creator), Cravedi, J. (Creator), Halldorsson, T. I. (Creator), Haug, L. S. (Creator), Johansson, N. (Creator), Knutsen, H. K. (Creator), Rose, M. (Creator), Roudot, A. (Creator), Van Loveren, H. (Creator), Vollmer, G. (Creator), Mackay, K. (Creator), Riolo, F. (Creator) & Schwerdtle, T. (Creator), EFSA, 17 Sept 2020


Cite this