A new study adds to the growing evidence that exposure to polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is harmful to pets and could increase the risk of endocrine disorders like hypothyroidism.
PFAS are a large family of highly fluorinated chemicals used in everything from furniture polish to cookware to coatings that repel stains and water in carpet and clothes.
The chemicals don’t break down and can accumulate in the environment and the body over time.
Exposure to PFAS is extremely common, and research has found that PFAS can cause health problems in humans and animals, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Now, new research from the California Environmental Protection Agency has found that PFAS chemical exposure can lead to endocrine disorders in cats over time.
The researchers analyzed blood samples taken from senior cats in northern California and compared PFAS exposure between cats diagnosed with hypothyroidism and those without any endocrine disorders.
The cats that had higher levels of PFAS exposure were more likely to be diagnosed with an endocrine disorder according to the study results.
“Our lab has been investigating PFAS for years,” Miaomiao Wang, the lead author of the study, told the Daily Mail. “Cats can be good sentinels to examine body burdens of emerging pollutants, including PFAS. The current study is only preliminary, however, and larger scale studies might be helpful to confirm our findings.”
A previous study found that dolphins are also at risk of exposure to endocrine disruptors as researchers discovered phthalate chemicals in a group of dolphins’ urine for the first time.
The results of the studies show that PFAS exposure is a growing problem both for wild and domestic animals and for humans.
Lab studies have shown that PFAS exposure can cause tumors, and lead to reproductive and developmental problems, liver and kidney problems, and immunological effects, according to the EPA.
By Kay Vandette, Earth.com Staff Writer