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Changing the structure of PFOA and PFOS: a chemical industry strategy or a solution to avoid thyroid-disrupting effects?

BACKGROUND: The family of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) raised concern for their proven bioaccumulation and persistence in the environment and animals as well as for their hazardous health effects. As a result, new congeners of PFAS have rapidly replaced the so-called "old long-chain PFAS" (mainly PFOA and PFOS), currently out-of-law and banned by most countries. These compounds derive from the original structure of "old long-chain PFAS", by cutting or making little conformational changes to their structure, thus obtaining new molecules with similar industrial applications. The new congeners were designed to obtain "safer" compounds. Indeed, old-long-chain PFAS were reported to exert thyroid disruptive effects in vitro, and in vivo in animals and humans. However, shreds of evidence accumulated so far indicate that the "restyling" of the old PFAS leads to the production of compounds, not only functionally similar to the previous ones but also potentially not free of adverse health effects and bioaccumulation. Studies aimed at characterizing the effects of new-PFAS congeners on thyroid function indicate that some of these new-PFAS congeners showed similar effects.

PURPOSE: The present review is aimed at providing an overview of recent data regarding the effects of novel PFAS alternatives on thyroid function.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: An extensive review of current legislation and of the shreds of evidence obtained from in vitro and in vivo studies evaluating the effects of the exposure to novel PFOA and PFOS alternatives, as well as of PFAS mixture on thyroid function will be provided.

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