You know those crazy people in your Facebook stream who talk about chemicals like perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), chemtrails, vaccines and immune responses?
It’s almost become a bit of a mantra that chemical concerns are overstated, and go hand in hand with a crunchy, anti-vaccine mindset. But new data reveals that a kind of chemical our environments are awash in- PFCs- could be working against the effectiveness of vaccines and inhibiting immune response in kids. PFCs are found in your furniture, stain-resistant stuff, rain gear and even microwave popcorn. So while it may seem dangers are overstated by some, we also may be underestimating the dangers surrounding chemicals and immune response.
A recently released report on the findings culled data collected from nearly 600 children studied in the Faroe Islands between 1999 and 2001. The area was selected for its reliance on and exposure to the ocean and known environmental levels of PFCs. Studies show increasing PFCs in the water and food supply in the area, and all the kids in the study received a diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine at a few months of age and a booster at 5. Another booster was administered at the age of 7.
When researchers compared data, they were surprised to find that higher levels of PFCs correlated with a lower immune response in vaccinated kids. TIME reports that kids “whose PFC levels were twice as high had half the amount of antibodies to diphtheria and tetanus,” and that by the seven-year mark, “kids with a twofold increase in PFC levels were also two to four times more likely to show an immune response that was so low that it was no longer clinically protective.”
If that sounds scary, researchers thought so, too- Dr. Phillippe Grandjean is an adjunct professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. He helmed the study, and commented:
“We were kind of shocked when we saw those numbers… This is the first study to say that by [exposing children to these chemicals], we are screwing up a major aspect of disease prevention in our society. I’ve been in the field for quite a while, and this is a very strong signal.”
Researchers admit further study is needed to confirm the results, but that they “haven’t been able to explain [away]” the findings. Do you worry about chemicals like PFCs in the environment?