PFAS may not be as common as other dangerous chemicals, but nowadays the worries about it and steps to contain it are growing. PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances which are created by humans and include a multitude of several different chemicals. They’ve been used around the Earth, but it’s come to realization that two of the chemicals in PFAS are unable to break down which can lead up to health effects for us and for the environment.
The two chemicals most worried about are the PFOA’s and PFOS’s that reside in PFAS and have a strong tendency to linger and are unable to break down. PFOA stands for perfluorooctanoic acid, and PFOS stands for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid. Some of the health effects that may be the result of PFAS include cancer, damages to the immune system where it becomes weaker, abnormal birth weights for newborns, and thyroid hormone disruption which can affect the brain and further capabilities needed for human functions.
Since the 1940s when PFAS’s were first introduced into the U.S., there have been measures taken to restrict and limit what is allowed, but there are still unknown and common ways it can reach you. Pathways include cleaning products we use around the house, food packaging that may have been in contact with PFAS before shipment, drinking water, animals and other humans who are already affected by PFAS, and even in the workplace with the machinery and products used.
Throughout the U.S. caution is being taken and procedures are in motion to limit the possible harm that could affect the community. For example, in Pennsylvania, the governor, Tom Wolfe, has started a plan to collect and test water from different water stations open to public access or use. This plan was initiated after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to live up to a promise to set a maximum level of contamination for PFAS. Now, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Pennsylvania is taking action.
It’s not only through common means of contamination, PFAS is being spread through our military, airport transportation, and even alligators! The danger is present in places you wouldn’t even consider to think about, let alone take preparations against beforehand. Check out the official EPA website for deeper information on PFAS’s and how it can affect you.