An Overview Of PFAS Chemical

PFAS (per and fluoroalkyl) are a class of man-made chemicals that have been in widespread use since the 1940s. From clothing and furniture to food packaging and electronics, many industries have used this universal chemical for its repellent properties. 

However, when the association between PFAS and adverse health effects became known in the early 2000s, production of certain PFAS in the United States was discontinued. Despite these efforts, they have spread to the environment and water supplies due to their continued use in overseas production, imported products, and their strong chemical bonds that are resistant to degradation.

A recent study by the Working Group on the Environment estimates that more than 200 million Americans may have PFAS in their drinking water. Let’s discuss the forever chemical meaning, and the product contains PFAS.

The Persistence of PFAS: The 'Forever Chemicals' Coming Under Regulatory Scrutiny - EHS Daily Advisor

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What is PFAS?

PFAS is a class of man-made chemicals made from a combination of carbon and fluorine, which forms one of the strongest bonds in nature. Therefore, PFAS are non-biodegradable, stable in water, and persist in the environment and the human body for long periods, earning them the unfortunate but apt nickname of “Forever Chemicals”. According to the National Registry of Toxic Substances and Diseases (ATSDR), it can take up to four years for PFAS levels in the human body to halve.

PFAS was introduced in the 1940s as a repellent against water, oil, grease, stains, and even fire. They are used in a variety of products and industries, such as. non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, stain-resistant fabrics, and fire-resistant foam. 

There are nearly 5,000 different types of PFAS, but perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are the most common and most studied. American manufacturers stopped producing PFOA and PFOS in the early 2000s, but due to their long half-life and overseas use, PFAS are still abundant in our environment.

Which products contain PFAS?

Due to its universal repellent properties, PFAS can be found in a large number of products. From pizza boxes to furniture, PFAS are found in countless household items. The following are some of the most frequent PFAS-containing products.

  • pizza box
  • Microwave popcorn bag
  • Cookware with non-stick coating
  • Waterproof clothes
  • detergent
  • Paint, polish, and wax
  • fire retardant foam