High exposure to perfluorinated compounds in drinking water and thyroid disease. A cohort study from Ronneby, Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are extremely persistent manmade substances. Apart from exposure through food and indoor air and dust, humans can be exposed through drinking water if the surface or groundwater is contaminated. In 2013 very high levels of PFOS and PFHxS were found in the drinking water from one of the two waterworks supplying the municipality of Ronneby, Sweden. A cohort was formed, including all individuals who had lived at least one year in Ronneby during the period 1980–2013 (ñ63,000). Each year, addresses that got their drinking water from the contaminated water works were identified. Through the Swedish personal identity number, each individual was linked to registers providing diagnoses and prescriptions for hyper- and hypothyroidism. In total, 16,150 individuals had ever been exposed. The hazard ratios did not indicate any excess risk of hyperthyroidism among those with contaminated water. For hypothyroidism, the risk of being prescribed medication was significantly increased among women with exposure during the mid part of the study period (but not men). However, the association with period of exposure was non-monotonic, so the significance is considered to be a chance finding. Our research was limited by the relatively simple exposure assessment.


  • Eva M. Andersson
  • Kristin Scott
  • Yi Yi Xu
  • Ying Li
  • Daniel S. Olsson
  • Tony Fletcher
  • Kristina Jakobsson
External organisations
  • Sahlgrenska University Hospital
  • University of Gothenburg
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health


  • Cohort study, Drinking water, Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), Register study, Thyroid disease
Original languageEnglish
Article number108540
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch