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Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in Swedish household dust and exposure of pet cats

Last changed: 05 July 2021
Cat in bed

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are used in a wide range of products and have been found ubiquitously in our indoor environment, and there is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse endocrine effects, such as thyroid hormone disruption. Pet cats have a high dust intake due to their grooming behavior and have been shown to be a suitable sentinel species for assessment of toddler’s exposure. Here we used paired household dust (n=46) and cat serum (n=27) samples to establish whether dust is a relevant exposure pathway to PFASs.

An analytical method for PFAS analysis was optimized using a low volume of cat serum samples, combining solid-phase extraction and online sample cleanup. Dust was extracted with methanol by sonication and cleaned up by addition of active carbon. In total, 27 PFASs were analyzed by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis. The correlation between PFAS levels in dust and serum, serum lipids and thyroid hormone levels, and PFAS levels in dust between different rooms were statistically evaluated.

PFOS and PFDA could be quantified in all cat serum samples (median 2300 pg/mL and 430 pg/mL, respectively), followed by PFOA (median 1100 pg/mL), quantified in 96% of the samples. The levels of 6:2 and 8:2 diPAPs were determined in 65% and 92% of the serum samples, respectively, and were an order of magnitude lower (1.4–160 pg/mL).

Household dust on the other hand was dominated by 6:2 and 8:2 diPAPs, with a median of 65 ng/g dust and 49 ng/g dust, respectively. PFOS (median 13 ng/g dust) and PFOA (median 9 ng/g dust) were quantified in 93% of the dust samples. Only eight PFASs were detected (>LOD) in at least 50% of the samples of both matrices and could be paired.

Significant correlations between cat serum and dust were found for PFOA (rS=0.32, p<0.049) and PFUnDA (rS=0.55, p<0.001). Significant positive correlations were found between serum total thyroxine (rS=0.11, p<0.05) and PFNA and between serum cholesterol and PFHpA (rS=0.46, p<0.01), PFUnDA (rS=0.40, p<0.05), PFDoDA (rS=0.44, p<0.01), and sum PFAS (rS=0.48, p<0.01).

In conclusion, this study confirmed that dust is a relevant exposure pathway for the ingestion of some PFASs for cats, and the serum levels of PFASs could be of relevance for the cat’s health.

Link to publication


Weiss, J.M., Jones, B., Koekkoek, J. et al. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in Swedish household dust and exposure of pet cats. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2021).


Bernt Jones
Researcher at the Department of Clinical Sciences; Clinical Pathology Unit

Telephone: 0733-306015