What Are PFAS?
What Are PFAS?
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Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, are synthetic, man-made chemicals used in common household products, industries such as automotive and construction, and in lifesaving technologies such as firefighting foam. PFAS are added to products to increase their effectiveness, such as resistance to heat, water, and oil. While effective, they come with a host of health concerns, which can cause but are not limited to cancer, weakened immune systems, and risks related to weight, metabolism, fertility, and reduced fetal growth. Once heralded as a great leap forward in technology, PFAS have now been labeled a national health crisis
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Introduced in the United States in 1946 by Dupont, an American multinational chemical company, PFAS made its first appearance in non-stick cookware coated with Teflon®. The chemical’s unique properties made it attractive for use in various products like carpets, food packaging and clothing. While the use of PFAS has brought convenience to our lives, its widespread use led to health and environmental consequences. Even more, PFAS are challenging to detect and remove from both the environment and our bodies. Today, PFAS contamination in drinking water is prevalent in 43 U.S. states and affect 19 million people.
How PFAS Contaminate Our Local Water Sources:
The “forever chemical” is not just a buzzword, it’s a reality that affects 99% of Americans. This chemical compound persists and accumulates in humans for years. PFAS are commonly used in various consumer products and industrial applications due to their unique properties. However, as these products are used and disposed of, PFAS can infiltrate our drinking water systems, creating an accessible route for PFAS consumption. While the convenience of PFAS may be tempting, it’s vital to ask ourselves: convenience yes, but at what cost?
One of the primary exposure pathways for PFAS is drinking water. Water is used for many purposes, including hydration, food production, and washing. . Purchasing PFAS-free products, following local drinking water advisories, and installing water filters are some of the measures people take to reduce their exposure. However, the problem is still far from solved and these actions are not enough. It is imperative that additional measures be taken to mitigate the contamination crisis, such as urging our local and state governments to prioritize funding for PFAS drinking water mitigation. This funding can support research, testing, and implementation of technologies that can effectively remove PFAS from our drinking water.
PFAS levels in water are above the Maximum Contaminate Level in many parts of the country, including parts of Washington, most notably the Yakima Training Center.
Who Do They Effect?
In one word, everyone!
Picture this: you love your pets, they are family. Every day, you fill their bowl with tap water to keep them hydrated, but what if the water is doing more harm than good? The truth is the adverse health effects produced by PFAS exposure go beyond the scope of just humans. Studies show that lab animals exposed to PFAS developed liver disease, immune system diseases, thyroid disease, reproductive disease or developmental effects.
It’s not just our pets who are at risk; new mothers are also concerned about protecting their newborns from PFAS exposure. Imagine finding out that PFAS is present in your breast milk or in the water you’ve combined with your baby’s formula – the thought is enough to make any parent shudder!
These are just a couple of examples of how pervasive the effects of PFAS are, and whywe need to take action to protect our loved ones, whether they are pets or humans.
Disclaimer: This material is funded through a Public Participation Grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology. The content was reviewed for grant consistency but is not necessarily endorsed by the agency.
Este material ha sido financiado por una Subvención de Participación Pública del Departamento de Ecología del Estado de Washington. El contenido de la subvención fue revisado para verificar su coherencia, pero no es necesariamente endosado por la agencia.