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PFAS chemicals Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

PFAS Contamination – Key Things to Know

PFAS contamination of water resources has made the national stage recently. (See: Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ more common in tap water than thought). PFAS chemicals Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that are very persistent in the environment and can accumulate over time in the human body.

Health Effects

Wikipedia: The most comprehensive epidemiological studies linking adverse human health effects to PFASs, particularly PFOA, come from The C8 Science Panel.[18] The panel was formed as part of a contingency to a class action lawsuit brought by communities in the Ohio River Valley against DuPont in response to landfill and wastewater dumping of PFAS laden material from the West Virginia Washington Works Plant.[19] The panel measured PFOA (C8) serum concentration in 69,000 individuals from around DuPont’s Washington Works Plant and found a mean concentration of 83.0 ng/mL, compared to 4 ng/mL in a standard population of Americans.[20] From this panel, 35 studies investigating probable links between elevated C8 blood concentration and specific health outcomes were determined by measures of association and are summarized below.


    Environmental Effects

    US EPA: PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time.

    PFAS can be found in:

    • Food packaged in PFAS-containing materials, processed with equipment that used PFAS, or grown in PFAS-contaminated soil or water.
    • Commercial household products, including stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products (e.g., Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams (a major source of groundwater contamination at airports and military bases where firefighting training occurs).
    • Workplace, including production facilities or industries (e.g., chrome plating, electronics manufacturing or oil recovery) that use PFAS.
    • Drinking water, typically localized and associated with a specific facility (e.g., manufacturer, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, firefighter training facility).
    • Living organisms, including fish, animals and humans, where PFAS have the ability to build up and persist over time.

    The extent of confirmed contamination of water resources with PFAS continues to grow at a significant rate. As of May 2020, 1,582 locations in 49 states are known to have PFAS contamination in water resources. An interactive contamination monitoring map can be found here:

    What are some key first steps?

    • Study this PFAS contamination map to see if it is a problem in your area.
    • Discuss this issue with customers and others who are informed. Is it on their radar?
    • Check back frequently. We will be focused on this issue for the foreseeable future and will provide updated info on our site.

    Attention: PFAS Innovators

    We would like to learn about PFAS removal and eradication innovations for water and share it online at WaterTrust. Contact if interested.

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