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What on Earth are PFAS?

The chemicals that never go away.



PFAS (short for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are human-made chemicals used in products worldwide since the 1950s—including firefighting foam, nonstick cookware, and water-repellent fabrics and carpet. They also have a range of applications in the aerospace, aviation, automotive and electronics industries, among others.


Dubbed the “forever chemical,” PFAS never break down in the environment or our bodies and are literally everywhere (especially near manufacturing facilities using PFAS, landfills, and wastewater treatment facility outfalls). Because the chemicals have spread into our water supply and the bloodstreams of fish, wildlife, and humans—communities and policymakers are demanding further research and oversight on the chemical industry.


 


PFAS Contamination in the United States



 


PFAS Health Impacts

Although two long-chain PFAS chemicals (PFOA and PFOS) were phased out by producers over a decade ago, their prevalence in the natural environment will remain for years to come. Exposure to PFAS may be linked to an increased risk of cancer, suppressed immune systems, and problems in fetal development.


A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found traces of PFAS in 98% of its participants.


Lawmakers have introduced more than a dozen bills in the U.S. House to address risks related to PFAS, and The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works recently held a legislative hearing to consider action.






How to Avoid PFAS

Avoid items that tout “nonstick” or “waterproof” properties, as they can contain PFAS; reduce or eliminate fast food and carry-out items; and check beauty product labels for the term “fluoro,” which indicates a fluorinated chemical.




The standards and guidance values for PFAS are changing rapidly as research on the health effects continues to evolve.



18 states have established PFAS guidance or limits in addition to the U.S. EPA health advisory levels established in 2016.


Kansas is currently evaluating the drinking water supplies of larger public water supplies for potential PFAS contamination.



 

Contact ppB for more information.


Have specific questions about PFAS? Seeking PFAS treatment? We're here to help.


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