The chemical industrial compound PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds which includes PFOS and PFOA) is ubiquitous in the U.S. and other industrialized countries and seems to stick around so long it was once dubbed the “forever chemical” compound. It has been used in a variety of consumer products including food containers for processed foods sold in grocery stores and fast foods, a variety of personal care products such as dental floss and the fire retardant and stain resistant substances on your clothing, bedding, carpets and sofas to name a few. It has also been discovered in a place we cannot escape: our water.
Why should you care?
PFAS chemical compounds have been linked in scientific and medical studies to some rather nasty health problems. Namely, excessive cholesterol levels (which can lead to or exacerbate related health problems like heart disease), ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer and kidney cancer, problems in pregnancies as well as for offspring, weight gain/obesity, liver problems and other health issues (1, 2, 3). Given the magnitude of the potential harm this chemical compound has been linked to, it is critical to do whatever we can to minimize its presence in our drinking water.
EPA blasted for failing to set drinking water limits for ‘forever chemicals’
After intense pressure from politicians and environmental and public health groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today published a plan to tackle industrial chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that are showing up in drinking water supplies across the nation. But critics say the plan is vague and lacks regulatory teeth, and it will do little to reduce health risks.
PFAS chemicals are widely used to make nonstick and water-proof products, including foams used to fight fires. The compounds can persist in the environment for decades, leading some to dub them “forever chemicals.” And studies have linked them to cancer and developmental defects, raising health concerns.
In May 2018, EPA said it would develop a plan to tackle the substances in drinking water. Many were hoping the agency would set national regulatory limits on PFAS concentrations in water supplies. But the plan released today puts little meat on the bones of last year’s promises.