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Characterization of Per- and Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS) Present in Commercial Anti-Fog Products and Their In Vitro Adipogenic Activity
Anti-fogging products rose in popularity in response to the increased use of protective gear, including masks and face shields, during the COVID19 pandemic. These products are one of the solutions recommended to help prevent fogging of glasses while wearing masks. While many of these products are marketed as “safe” and “non-toxic”, it seems possible that some of these products could contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) due to their water repellent properties. The two main objectives of this study were to identify and characterize PFAS compounds present in commercially available anti-fog sprays and cloth wipes, and investigate the adipogenic activity of the anti-fog sprays in a common in vitro pre-adipocyte model. Fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs) and fluorotelomer ethoxylates (FTEOs) were detected at significant levels in all anti-fog products (n=9) and anti-fog formulations (n=2) analyzed within this study. In addition, all four anti-fog sprays and both commercial formulations exhibited significant cytotoxicity and adipogenic activity (either triglyceride accumulation and/or pre-adipocyte proliferation) in murine 3T3-L1 cells. Results suggest that FTEOs are a significant contributor to the adipogenic activity exhibited by the anti-fog sprays. All together, these results suggest that FTEOs are present in commercial products at toxicologically relevant levels and more research is needed to fully understand the health risks from using these PFAS-containing products.


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Nicholas Herkert
Research Project Manager @Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University
Nicholas Herkert, Ph.D., is a Research Project Manager in Dr. Stapleton’s laboratory at Duke University and the Targeted Organic Analysis Manager of the Duke HHEAR Environmental Analysis Laboratory. Currently, he manages GC-MS analysis workflows by maintaining instrument stability and accuracy to producing high quality targeted analytical results. He develops new instrument and laboratory methods to fit evolving research needs. Dr Herkert received his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Iowa in 2018 before conducting postdoctoral research in the Nicholas School for the Environment at Duke University.