(ORDO NEWS) — It is no exaggeration to say that donating blood can save a life. Now, researchers have discovered a curious benefit for the donor: Regular trips to the blood bank appear to reduce the amount of certain “timeless chemicals” floating around in the bloodstream.
Although scientists aren’t sure how dangerous these commonly used perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) can be, they are sometimes referred to as “timeless chemicals” because they do not degrade in nature.
The researchers tested 285 firefighters working for Fire Rescue Victoria in Australia who donated blood and plasma for 12 months. Firefighters are regularly exposed to PFAS through firefighting foam, and typically have higher blood levels than the general population.
“The results of the study showed that regular blood and plasma donations led to a significant reduction in blood levels of PFAS compared to the control group,” says hematologist Robin Gasiorowski from Macquarie University in Australia.
“While both interventions are effective in reducing PFAS levels, plasma donation was more effective and corresponded to a 30 percent reduction.”
For the first time, a way has been found to reduce PFAS in the blood – all thanks to a charitable act that benefits society, and not some drug treatment or complex procedures that must be performed in hospitals.
In the study, 95 firefighters donated blood every 12 weeks, 95 firefighters donated plasma every 6 weeks, and 95 firefighters donated neither blood nor plasma. The PFAS level in the last group remained unchanged.
It appears that since PFAS binds to serum proteins, a decrease in this blood component may reduce PFAS levels over time. However, the study is just beginning and much more testing is needed on larger groups of people.
“While this study did not investigate the health effects of PFAS exposure or the clinical benefits of lowering levels in firefighters, these important issues deserve further study to better understand the health implications of exposure and treatment,” says ecologist Mark Taylor of Macquarie University.
PFAS are not just a problem for firefighters. They are found in everything from paints to pans and have previously been linked to health issues including obesity, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
These chemicals not only seep into our bodies, but also reach the most remote places on Earth. As their name suggests, these substances will be around for a very long time, so we need to know more about what we’re dealing with.
These first results are promising, and the next step will be to test more diverse groups to see if there are specific populations at risk who could benefit the most from the plasma and blood donation process.
“Firefighters often prioritize the health and safety of others over their own health, so it’s exciting that the results of this study can be used to improve the health of firefighters who have achieved high PFAS levels through vital community service,” says Mick Tisbury, assistant fire marshal. Fire Rescue Victoria.
“It is also important to acknowledge the firefighters who volunteered their time to participate in this important study. The findings will not only benefit firefighters, but others working in high-risk sectors who are exposed to PFAS chemicals.”
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