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According to a study conducted by the University Of Cincinnati College Of Medicine, prolonged exposure to PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” can potentially delay the onset of puberty in girls, leading to increased risks of health issues such as breast cancer, kidney disease, and thyroid disease.

Exposure to PFAs during puberty increases vulnerability in girls

Dr. Susan Pinney, a researcher in the Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences and co-author of the study, explains that the period of adolescence represents a phase of heightened vulnerability. In a university press statement, she emphasized that environmental factors encountered during this crucial developmental stage, be it exposure to PFAS or any other substances, may possess an increased potential for exerting lasting impacts on an individual’s health. These factors effectively prolong the susceptibility window, rendering individuals more exposed and at risk for an extended duration.

This study is the first to examine the influence of PFAS on hormones associated with delayed puberty. It entailed the observation of 823 girls aged six to eight years, with periodic check-ups every six to 12 months to detect the emergence of puberty indicators like pubic hair growth and breast development.

PFAs result in hormone decline in pre-puberty girls

Approximately 85% of girls have been exposed to detectable levels of PFAS chemicals, which are widely present in various everyday items like food wrappers and plastic water bottles. For girls consistently exposed to PFAS, researchers noted a hormone decline, potentially causing a delayed onset of puberty by approximately five to six months compared to the norm.

The study revealed that girls exposed to PFAS experience an average delay in puberty by five to six months. However, some girls may experience more significant delays, while others may not be affected at all. The most concerning cases are those where the delay is more substantial, especially among girls at the extreme end of the spectrum.

Over 99% of girls exhibited elevated levels of PFOA, a cancer and child development-linked chemical group. The hazardous nature of PFAS was first identified in the 1980s when researchers observed its chemical similarity to other dangerous substances.