As a public health agency within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry focuses on minimizing people’s exposure to hazardous substances. Increasingly, healthcare professionals and members of the public have been concerned about possible exposures to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Yet, only a few PFAS have been studied extensively and many uncertainties remain. Agencies and other interested parties have not reached consensus on treatment guidelines for people exposed to PFAS. ATSDR asked ERG to prepare an updated PFAS: Information for Clinicians document and companion fact sheet (and associated social media graphics) to help clinicians and others understand PFAS exposure and health risks, explore exposure reduction opportunities, and navigate healthcare decision-making.
The ERG team began by reviewing seminal research and toxicological reports from ATSDR and other agencies, as well as a recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, to help ensure that the content would be based on the latest and most pertinent information on this complex topic. To gain insight into the needs, understanding, and perspectives of the target audience, we engaged with physicians, other clinicians, and ATSDR experts with experience in addressing exposures to toxic substances. Working collaboratively with ATSDR, we developed a format and organizational framework for both publications designed to make the content visually meaningful and understandable at a glance to busy clinicians and other audiences. We then worked with ATSDR in an iterative process to create increasingly robust drafts of the document and fact sheet, periodically discussing how to address uncertainties and other complexities related to differences in scientific opinions on the subject matter. ATSDR published the resulting PFAS Information for Clinicians document and fact sheet on its website and publicized their availability through social media posts as well as traditional communication channels.