There has been much coverage of PFAS, the “forever chemicals,” in the past year. These emerging contaminants have spiked concern because of their pervasiveness in the environment and our relatively limited understanding of their impacts on human health. And while it seems there are more questions than answers surrounding PFAS as of now, the growing awareness of their detrimental impact could lead to increased environmental regulations and future liabilities for the real estate industry as these forever chemicals seem to live on in building materials and ground substances.
Therefore, it’s important for those acquiring or building real estate to understand PFAS, the changing regulatory landscape surrounding them and what proactive measures can be taken to minimize future potential regulatory burdens or litigation risks.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS or PFOAS) are a family of more than 7,000 synthetic chemical compounds that have been in use since the 1930s and whose application has significantly expanded over the past century. PFAS are highly effective surfactants, lowering the surface tension between two liquids or between a liquid and a solid. They are also extremely resistant to heat.