Chemicals used in manufacturing processes may damage immune system

Posted on 25 Jan 2012

According to a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) could be to blame for reduced effectiveness of tetanus and diphtheria vaccines.

PFC's are thought to damage the immune system
Perfluorinated compounds (PFC's) are thought to damage the immune system

PFC’s are organic chemicals containing fluorine, and are found in a wide range of manufacturing processes – including in the manufacture of food packaging and industrial manufacturing. The reduced effect of the above mentioned vaccines is thought to be a direct effect of PFCs on the immune system.

Philippe Grandjean, an environmental epidemiologist at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts led the study. He and his team previously established that another group of chemicals used in manufacturing – polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – are also responsible for decreased effectiveness of the immune system.

“The data in this paper is very consistent with what has been published in the laboratory-animal literature in the past few years,” said Dori Germolec, an immunologist at the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. She claimed that the study confirmed her belief that PFCs are immunosuppressive.

Mr Grandjean said that the indication of his study was that PFCs are actually more damaging to the human immune system than PCBs. He and his team carried out the study in the Faroe Islands on a sample of 587 children born at the National Hospital in Tórshavn between 1999 and 2001.