PFAS FAQ’s

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 (PFASs) 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 resistant clothing 
    • Firefighting foam and flame retardants
    • Dental floss
    • Ski wax   
  • It is safe to shower or bathe in PFAS contaminated water. They are not significant sources of exposure. Studies have shown that there is very limited absorption of PFAS through the skin.

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
    • Delayed mammary gland development
    • Effects on the thyroid and liver
    • Increased likelihood of developing cancer.
  • MBCC is especially concerned about how exposures to chemicals can alter mammary gland development and may increase the risk of breast cancer later in life.  – Can this be highlighted somehow?
  • 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 pre-eclampsia 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:
    • Products with the “fluoro” ingredients listed on the label
    • 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

  • An 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

What can I do to help stop PFAS exposure?

Other Links

PFAS Resources

Student PFAS Module

PFAS Webinars

PFAS Fact Sheets