Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ are found everywhere. What you need to know about PFAS


From nonstick pans to food packaging to make-up, hundreds of everyday products are made with PFAS chemicals that have been linked to adverse health effects, including cancer, weakened immunity and low birth weight.

They are also a persistent pollutant in the environment, with high levels found in many public water systems.

PSAS are described as “forever chemicals” because they don’t degrade in the environment or the human body. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people in the U.S. have PFAS in their bloodstream.

So, what exactly are PFAS chemicals and should you be concerned? Here’s what you need to know:

What are PFAS?

PFAS is shorthand for a class of chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS chemicals have been manufactured since the 1940s and highly utilized in various industries because of their ability to resist heat and repel grease, water and oil.

PFAS chemicals keep food from sticking to cookware, make clothes and carpets resistant to stains, and create firefighting foam that is more effective.

PFOA and PFOS are among the oldest chemicals in this class and have been largely phased out in the United States. However, these man-made pharmaceuticals, microplastics and synthetic chemicals take hundreds of years to break down, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, are still present in the environment. The EPA has established a nonbinding “advisory level” of 70 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, which the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has described as too weak. Some states have imposed tougher limits.

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~sNBC Los Angeles, 29 July 2021