What You Need to Know About PFASs (PFOA/PFOS)
What are PFASs?
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (together known as PFASs) are a class of man-made chemicals, not found naturally in the environment. PFOA (sometimes known as “C8”) and PFOS are the two PFASs that have been the most extensively produced and therefore are the most studied of these chemicals. Both of these chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body.
What are PFASs Used For?
Perfluoroalkyls were made in large amounts in the United States–by companies like DuPont and 3M–until they began to be phased out in 2006 because of concerns about the impact of PFOA and long-chain PFASs on human health and the environment. PFASs were widely used to make products more stain-resistant, waterproof and/or nonstick. For example, PFASs were used in the manufacture of products that:
Although the major manufacturers began winding down PFOA production in 2006, some facilities are replacing perfluoroalkyls with other similar substances.
How Might I be Exposed to PFASs?
Exposure to PFASs is widespread and global. Most people in the United States and in other industrialized nations have measurable amounts of PFASs in their blood. The major pathways of human exposure to PFAS include:
What Happens to PFASs in the Environment?
Perfluoroalkyls can be released into the air, water, and soil near locations where they were manufactured or used. Because PFASs are very stable compounds that are resistant to typical environmental degradation, they are extremely persistent in the environment. Perfluoroalkyls have been found in both air and dust; surface water and groundwater; and soil and sediment. Although the highest levels of perfluoroalkyls in the environment are typically found near facilities that have made or used these substances, they have also been found at remote locations. This is attributable to the fact that, due to their persistence, PFASs can travel long distances through the air. Perfluoroalkyls may also be carried through soil by groundwater and flooding and become airborne during windy conditions.
How Can PFASs Affect My Health?
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization, has classified PFOA as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B), based on limited evidence in humans that it can cause testicular and kidney cancer, and limited evidence in lab animals. Furthermore, the EPA has concluded that both PFOA and PFOS are possibly carcinogenic to humans.
PFOS and PFOA accumulate in the human body and are eliminated slowly. This propensity to be stored in the body, increases concerns about the possible effects of these compounds on human health.
Studies indicate that PFOA and PFOS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Both chemicals have caused tumors in animals according to studies, and human epidemiology studies of exposure to PFOA and PFOS show findings of increased:
Perfluoroalkyl compounds can be measured in blood, but this is not a routine test that can be performed in a doctor’s office. The blood test for PFAS exposure indicates the levels of specific PFASs in your body at the time you were tested but does not predict future health effects.
How Can I Reduce my Family’s Risk of Exposure to PFASs?
Although PFASs are not manufactured in the U.S. anymore, older products and imported materials may still contain PFASs. In addition, PFASs have been found in the drinking water near facilities that manufactured the substances years ago and near military bases that used firefighting foam. Take the following steps to reduce your risk:
See your family doctor or an occupational doctor familiar with chemical exposure. Let him or her know if you have been exposed to PFASs and bring any test results.
PFASs May Also be Labeled as:
Perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA) Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) Perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDeA) Perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUA) Perfluorododecanoic acid (PFDoA) Perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBuS) Perfluorobutyric acid (PFBA) Perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) Perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA) 2-(N-Methyl-perfluorooctane sulfonamide) acetic acid (Me-PFOSA-AcOH) 2-(N-Ethyl-perfluorooctane sulfonamide) acetic acid (Et-PFOSA-AcOH)
Related Posts: PFOA and PFOS Should Not be in Your Family’s Drinking Water , DON’T “LEAVE IT UP TO THE EXPERTS” TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE AGAINST GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION
Posted in: PFOA / PFOS
Tagged: environmental contamination, groundwater contamination, PFASs, PFOA and PFOS
Updated: September 17, 2019 10:22 am
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