What You Should Know About PFAS

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Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a grouping of man-made chemicals that are used in many industrial and commercial industries. However, these chemicals can take a long time to breakdown—that is, if they can be broken down at all. This makes PFAS extremely harmful to our environment and our health.  

PFAS are everywhere and even located in our drinking water, making them unavoidable. Here’s what you should know about PFAS and the risks they pose.   

How Are You Exposed?

These chemicals are used in industrial and manufacturing industries for things such as food packaging, waterproof and nonstick products, stain repellents, and cleaning products. Most notably, PFAS are often included in the runoff from these industrial and manufacturing sites. This runoff, unfortunately, leads to the contamination of our water sources. This is the most common way we are exposed to PFAS.   

What Are the Risks?  

PFAS are accompanied by many health effects. Because these chemicals do not break down easily, we continuously absorb and accumulate more PFAs in our bodies. Excessive contamination can lead to serious health problems such as reproductive and developmental effects, infant birth weights, cancer, increased cholesterol levels, and thyroid hormone effects.  

Some of these effects are a result of perfluorooctanoic acids (PFOA), which are no longer used but still exist in our drinking water due to their long lifespan, like PFAS.   

What Is Being Done To Stop It?  

The EPA and other health agencies are using testing methods such as chromatography to measure the different types and amounts of PFAS present in production and drinking water. Currently, the EPA has suggested a health limit of 70 parts per trillion of PFAS and PFOS in safe drinking water. However, this is not a mandatory requirement.   

Many states are taking it into their own hands to create safer state-level requirements than federal requirements, especially states with more susceptible communities near industrial sites.   

The key takeaways of what you should know about PFAS are that they are used everywhere and even found in our drinking water which can lead to dangerous health effects if they aren’t regulated.

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