Hand Wipes: A Useful Tool for Assessing Human Exposure to Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) through Hand-to-Mouth and Dermal Contacts

The indoor environment contributes considerably to human exposure to poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). This study estimated the human exposure to PFASs from the indoor environment through hand-to-mouth and dermal contacts using hand wipes. An analytical method was developed to determine 25 PFASs in hand wipe samples collected as a composite sample from both hands of 60 adults. Polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters (PAPs) were the predominant PFASs in the hand wipe samples (medians between 0.21 and 0.54 ng per sample). Positive and significant correlations were observed between PAPs, perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) in hand wipes. Low frequency of daily hand washing (≤8 times day–1) was associated with 30–50% higher concentrations of PFOS, PFOA, and 8:2diPAP in hand wipes. Further, significant correlations between paired hand wipes and house dust samples were observed for PFOS, PFOA, and 6:2diPAP. Also, a significant correlation between PFOS in hand wipes and EtFOSE in indoor air was found. This finding indicates either a common source of exposure or a transformation of EtFOSE to PFOS in the environment or on the hands. The contributions of direct and indirect exposure to perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) showed that PFOA contributed the highest exposure to adults via hand-to-mouth and dermal contacts, followed by PFOS. The median of estimated daily intakes via hand-to-mouth and dermal contacts (for hands only) for PFOA were 0.83 and 0.50 pg·kg bw–1·day–1, respectively. This study gives a first indication that PFAS concentrations in hand wipes can be used as a proxy for the exposure to PFASs from indoor environments, but further studies are needed to confirm this.

Subscribe to our newsletter