Here are some commonly asked questions regarding PFAS. If you have additional questions, there is a list of resources at the bottom this this page.
What are PFAS?
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of man-made chemicals used in the production of a wide range of consumer products such as stain-resistant carpets, non-stick pans, waterproof jackets, and grease-proof food packaging.
- They are man-made chemicals that have been used in a variety of consumer products
- PFAS can be found in people, wildlife, fish and animals and may stay in people’s bodies for a long time.
- Due to the nature of their carbon-fluorine bonds, PFAS is very hard to break down naturally and have been classified as “forever chemicals.”
Can PFAS be broken down?
- Due to their carbon-fluorine bonds, PFAS cannot be broken down easily in the body.
- Even within the environment, PFAS cannot be broken down and can persist in the environment for decades. This can create a huge environmental waste problem.
How can I be exposed to PFAS?
- PFAS contamination may be in drinking water, food, consumer products, etc.
- Although some types of PFAS are no longer used, some products may still contain PFAS:
- Food packaging
- Nonstick cookware
- Water and/or stain-resistant clothing
- Firefighting foam
- Dental floss
- Ski wax
How can PFAS affect my health?
- Scientific studies suggest that PFAS may affect different systems in the body.
- PFAS chemicals have been linked to a wide range of health effects including
- Immune system toxicity
- Elevated cholesterol
- Altered mammary gland development
- Effects on the thyroid and liver
- Increased likelihood of developing cancer.
- MBCC is especially concerned about how exposure to these chemicals can alter mammary gland development and may increase the risk of breast cancer later in life.
- Other potential health problems involving PFAS in people’s bodies that the CDC is concerned with include:
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Changes in liver enzymes
- Decreased vaccine response in children
- Increased risk of high blood pressure or preeclampsia in pregnant women
- Small decreases in infant birth weights
- Increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer
How can I reduce my exposure to PFAS?
- Avoiding products such as:
- Stain-resistant furniture and carpets, as well as stain-resistant treatments and waterproofing sprays
- Microwave popcorn and fast-food packaging
- Using products such as:
- Fresh foods to avoid food packaging
- Cast iron, stainless steel, glass, or enamel cookware
- Activated carbon or reverse osmosis filtration system for your drinking water
- Nylon or silk dental floss that is uncoated or coated in natural wax
- Consider using treated water for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, and preparing baby formula.
- Use products from companies that do not use PFAS
- A recent Silent Spring study (May 2022) tested 93 products commonly used by children for the presence of harmful PFAS chemicals
- PFAS were detected most frequently in upholstered furniture, clothing, and pillow protectors.
- Pillow protectors and clothing, in general, had higher levels of PFAS than other products.
- PFOA, a legacy PFAS that has been phased out in the U.S., was detected in a variety of products, including those with “green” labels – most of which came from China.