Letter to Provider

Dear Healthcare Provider,

As you may be aware, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) have been conducting exposure assessments in various communities to look at drinking water exposures to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) has been asked to provide information on PFAS and guidance to assist in patient care and counseling so physicians and others can better address patient concerns about PFAS. The PEHSUs have expertise in adult, reproductive, and pediatric environmental health/medicine and form a network of health professionals whose services include providing consultative guidance and referral, education, and outreach to health professionals and the public. There is one PEHSU in each of the 10 federal regions based at academic medical institutions. We, the Region 6 PEHSU/Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health, are available to assist you via phone and/or email.

PFAS are a group of chemicals that have been used to make items that are resistant to water, grease, and stains. PFAS is used in non-stick cookware, carpets, clothing, upholstery, paper food packaging and aqueous film­forming firefighting foam (AFFF) used at military bases and airfields. These chemicals do not biodegrade and have migrated into ground water. For more information on PFAS and potential health effects, please visit the resources links tab.

Individuals in your community and potentially, your patients may have questions and concerns regarding PFAS, given that there has been media attention on potential PFAS exposures. They may have also had an exposure assessment and are trying to understand their assessment results. They will likely turn to their primary provider to help them understand their potential health risks associated with PFAS. The Region 6 PEHSU/Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health is working to prepare you and other clinicians through PFAS education and resources. One such way is conducting a PEHSU ECHO Series entitled, "An Update on PFAs 'Forever Chemical' for Clinicians". This ECHO Series will have six sessions starting on October 4, 2023, and ending on December 13, 2023. We encourage you to register as soon as possible to ensure your spot.

When your patient raises his or her concerns about PFAS, please provide an empathic ear. Empathy should be at the foundation of a discussion regarding potential health effects. Key messages to share are:

  1. Most people in the United States have some PFAS in their body.
  2. Reducing exposure to PFAS is the most important step for families with concerns.
  3. When a patient presents with health concerns that may be associated with PFAS exposure, it is appropriate to discuss these concerns and perform a thorough exposure history and physical exam relative to any symptoms reported.

We hope you find the information gathered is useful and comprehensive. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact the Region 6 PEHSU/Southwest Center for pediatric Environmental Health at any time by calling 888- 901-5665 or by emailing us at swcpeh@ttuhsc.edu. We also provide education, consultation, and referral on other environmental exposures.


Stormy Monks, MPH, Ph.D., CHES

Regional Director

Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health Region 6 Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit