Critical Review

The 51st Annual A&WMA Critical Review                                         

PFOA and Cancer

Authors: Scott M. Bartell and Verónica M. Vieira, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of California, Irvine
Scott Bartell is Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health and Statistics, and Associate Director for Faculty Affairs in the Program in Public Health, at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). His research interest is environmental health methodology, with applications in environmental epidemiology, exposure science, and risk assessment. Since 2006, much of his research has focused on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including linkage of fate and transport models and a pharmacokinetic model for exposure reconstruction and epidemiological analyses in the C8 Studies, development of Bayesian statistical methods for biomarker-based pharmacokinetic calibration in exposure reconstruction, and assessment of the potential impacts of exposure measurement error on previous epidemiological findings for PFAS. Dr. Bartell currently serves as Principal Investigator for the UCI PFAS Health Study, the California site in the CDC/ATSDR Multi-Site PFAS Study. Dr. Bartell earned his B.A. in Environmental Science from the University of California, Berkeley, his M.S. in Environmental Health from the University of Washington, and his M.S. in Statistics and Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of California, Davis.

Verónica Vieira is Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of California, Irvine. She received her B.S. from MIT (1998) and her M.S. from Stanford University (2000), both in Environmental Engineering, and her D.Sc. in Environmental Health (2003) from Boston University. Her research involves spatiotemporal analyses of health data for examining the contributions of known risk factors and environmental exposures to the underlying geographic pattern of disease risk including cancer and birth outcomes. She works extensively with reconstructing historic environmental exposures using GIS and has an extensive knowledge of groundwater modeling and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical involved in the manufacturing of Teflon. Dr. Vieira has been funded through the Superfund Research Program for over 15 years, where she investigates spatial and chemical/non-chemical patterns of ADHD-related behaviors and risk-taking behaviors among children living the New Bedford Harbor Superfund site using generalized additive models (MapGAM). Her work also includes international collaborations with researchers in France, Sweden, Portugal, Denmark, and Italy.
In the 51st Annual A&WMA Critical Review, Drs. Bartell and Vieira will examine the topic of Perfluorooctanoate and its association with cancer in humans and animals. PFOA is one of the most widely used and best studied per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a complex class of emerging contaminants with varying chemical properties, and rapidly changing production and use. Despite being phased out of production by major industries, PFOA is persistent in the environment, bioaccumulative in humans, and has been associated with adverse health effects, including adenomas or carcinomas in some animal experiments and human studies. The carcinogenicity of PFOA has been reviewed previously by several different regulatory agencies and researchers, with contradictory conclusions. This critical review summarizes peer-reviewed epidemiologic studies on PFOA and cancer of the kidneys and testes, converts exposures to a common scale based on time-averaged serum concentrations, and derives meta-analytic cancer risk estimates. The authors expect that application of formal statistical methods to the overall body of evidence will provide insight into the carcinogenicity of PFOA.
The full-length paper will appear in the June 2021 issue of the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association (JA&WMA) and its conclusions will be presented live as part of the 2021 A&WMA Virtual Annual Conference & Exhibition. Following the review presentation, a panel of invited experts will critique the presentation and offer their own views on the topic. Comments also will be solicited from the floor during a live question-and-answer sequence to end the session. To complete the review process, the Critical Review Committee Chair will synthesize all of the discussion points into a single Discussion Paper that will be published in the October 2021 issue of JA&WMA.
Invited discussants will offer different perspectives on the Review and will be asked to identify additional issues and offer alternative commentary based on their scientific expertise. Confirmed discussants include: 
Mike Abraczinskas, Director, North Carolina Division of Air Quality

 Xuelian Bai, Assistant Research Professor, Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute
Morton Barlaz, Professor and Department Head, Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, North Carolina State University
Virginia T. Guidry, Branch Head, Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology, North Carolina Division of Health and Human Services Alex Lan, Senior Interdisciplinary Scientist, Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water, Standards and Risk Management Division, US Environmental Protection Agency  

About the Critical Review
For more than 50 years, A&WMA has solicited and published in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association (JA&WMA) an Annual Critical Review on a topic of critical importance to the air and waste management fields. Each year, the review author presents the Annual Critical Review during A&WMA’s Annual Conference & Exhibition. The Critical Review Committee, which is a subcommittee of the Publications Committee, selects the review topics, solicits the authors/presenters, offers editorial guidance and critiques to the review authors, reviews the final manuscript before publication, and selects the participants for the panel discussion that follows the review presentation. 

Complete list of past Critical Reviews
A&WMA Critical Review Committee Charter and Manual of Operations
A&WMA Critical Review Committee