WGXC-90.7 FM

Activists concerned that major PFAS exposure could make COVID worse

Dec 18, 2020 6:00 am
Rick Karlin writes in the Times Union a team of researchers and environmental activists are suggesting it might be wise for residents of communities contaminated by PFAS chemicals get an extra COVID-19 booster shot because high exposure to the toxic compounds could weaken the immune system, making it more difficult to fight off the virus. Speakers on a Zoom conference on December 17, put on by the Environmental Working Group stopped short of saying definitively that PFAS exposure increases the risk or susceptibility to COVID. But there was some evidence, with animal experiments as well as some early observations, suggesting that could be the case. Linda Birnbaum, former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program, believes researchers should track the levels of antibodies in people with high PFAS exposure after the vaccines are administered to see if they differ from the overall population. PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, are known as “forever chemicals” due to their strong molecular bonds, most notably between fluorine and carbon. They are associated with illnesses such as thyroid disorders, cancers and other ailments. Health Department spokeswoman Erin Silk said in an email that the federal Centers for Disease Control has not recommended third doses of COVID-19 vaccine for anyone. State officials are generally following those federal guidelines in their COVID response. Read the full story in the Times Union.