Organic fluorochemicals are used in multiple commercial applications including surfactants, lubricants, paints, polishes, food packaging and fire-retarding foams. Several of these polyfluorochemicals (PFCs) are ubiquitous contaminants found both in humans and animals worldwide. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) has been used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer products including protective coatings for carpets and apparel, paper coatings, insecticide formulations, and surfactants. In May 2000, the 3M Company, the sole manufacturer of PFOS in the United States and the principal manufacturer worldwide, announced that it was discontinuing the production of perfluorooctanyl fluoride-based chemistries, including PFOS. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is used primarily to produce salts which are used in the production of fluoroelastomers and fluoropolymers, such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and polyvinylidine fluoride (PVDF). PTFE has numerous uses in many industrial and consumer products, including coatings on textiles and carpet; uses in the automotive, mechanical, aerospace, chemical, electrical, medical, and building/construction industries; personal care products; and non-stick coatings on cookware. PVDF is used primarily in electrical/electronics, building/construction, and chemical processing industrial sectors.
Examined participants aged 12 years and older from a one-third sample.
Description of Laboratory Methodology
Solid phase extraction coupled to High Performance Liquid Chromatography-Turbo Ion Spray ionization-tandem Mass Spectrometry (online SPE-HPLC-TIS-MS/MS) is used for the quantitative detection of perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA), 2-(N-methyl-perfluorooctane sulfonamido) acetic acid (Me-PFOSA-AcOH), 2-(N-ethyl-perfluorooctane sulfonamido) acetic acid (Et-PFOSA-AcOH), perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBuS), perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluoroheptanoate (PFHpA), perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), perfluorononanoate (PFNA), perfluorodecanoate (PFDeA), perfluoroundecanoate (PFUA), and perfluorododecanoate (PFDoA). Briefly, after dilution with formic acid, one aliquot of 100 μL of serum is injected into a commercial column switching system allowing for concentration and chromatographic separation of the analytes. Detection and quantification are done using tandem mass spectrometry (Kuklenyik Z, et al. 2005).
Refer to NHANES 2011-2012 Lab Methods for Polyfluoroalkyl Chemicals for detailed description of the laboratory method used.
Data Processing and Editing
The data were reviewed. Incomplete data or improbable values were sent to the performing laboratory for confirmation.
Laboratory Quality Assurance and Monitoring
Serum specimens are processed, stored, and shipped to the Division of Laboratory Sciences, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for analysis.
Detailed instructions on specimen collection and processing are discussed in the NHANES Laboratory Procedures Manual (LPM). Vials are stored under appropriate frozen (–20°C) conditions until they are shipped to National Center for Environmental Health for testing.
Mobile Examination Centers (MECs)
Laboratory team performance is monitored using several techniques. NCHS and contract consultants use a structured quality assurance evaluation during unscheduled visits to evaluate both the quality of the laboratory work and the quality-control procedures. Each laboratory staff person is observed for equipment operation, specimen collection and preparation; testing procedures and constructive feedback are given to each staff. Formal retraining sessions are conducted annually to ensure that required skill levels were maintained.
The NHANES QA/QC protocols meet the 1988 Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act mandates. Detailed QA/QC instructions are discussed in the NHANES Laboratory Procedures Manual (LPM).
NHANES uses several methods to monitor the quality of the analyses performed by the contract laboratories. In the MEC, these methods include performing blind split samples collected on “dry run” sessions. In addition, contract laboratories randomly perform repeat testing on 2.0% of all specimens.
NCHS developed and distributed a quality control protocol for all the contract laboratories which outlined the Westgard rules (Westgard et al, 1981) used when running NHANES specimens. Progress reports containing any problems encountered during shipping or receipt of specimens, summary statistics for each control pool, QC graphs, instrument calibration, reagents, and any special considerations are submitted to NCHS quarterly. The reports are reviewed for trends or shifts in the data. The laboratories are required to explain any identified areas of concern.
All QC procedures recommended by the manufacturers were followed. Reported results for all assays meet the Division of Laboratory Science’s quality control and quality assurance performance criteria for accuracy and precision, similar to specifications outlined by Westgard (Westgard et al,1981; Caudill et al. 2008).
Refer to the 2011-2012 Laboratory Data Overview for general information on NHANES laboratory data.
The analysis of NHANES 2011-2012 laboratory data must be conducted using the appropriate survey design and demographic variables. The NHANES 2011-2012 Demographics File contains demographic data, health indicators, and other related information collected during household interviews as well as the sample weight variables. The Fasting Questionnaire File includes auxiliary information such as fasting status, the time of venipuncture, and the conditions precluding venipuncture. The demographics and fasting questionnaire files may be linked to the laboratory data file using the unique survey participant identifier (i.e., SEQN).
Serum polyfluorinated chemicals were measured in a one third subsample of persons 12 years and over. Special sample weights are required to analyze these data properly. Specific sample weights for this subsample are included in this data file and should be used when analyzing these data.
The analysis of NHANES laboratory data must be conducted with the key survey design and basic demographic variables. The NHANES Demographic Data File contains demographic and sample design variables. The recommended procedure for variance estimation requires use of stratum and PSU variables (SDMVSTRA and SDMVPSU, respectively) in the demographic data file.
The detection limits were constant for all of the analytes in the data set. Two variables are provided for each of these analytes. The variable named LBD___LC indicates whether the result was below the limit of detection. There are two values: “0” and “1”. “0” means that the result was at or above the limit of detection. “1” indicates that the result was below the limit of detection. The other variable named LBX___ provides the analytic result for that analyte. For analytes with analytic results below the lower limit of detection (i.e., URD___LC=1), an imputed fill value was placed in the analyte results field. This value is the lower limit of detection divided by square root of 2 (LLOD/sqrt(2)).
The lower limit of detection (LLOD, in ng/mL) for each polyfluorochemical is:
|Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid
|Perfluorohexane sulfonic acid
|2-(N-Ethyl-perfluorooctane sulfonamido) acetic acid
|2-(N-Methyl-perfluorooctane sulfonamido) acetic acid
|Perfluorobutane sulfonic acid
Please refer to the NHANES Analytic Guidelines and the on-line NHANES Tutorial for further details on the use of sample weights and other analytic issues.