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 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
    • Delayed 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
  • 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. 

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

What can I do to help stop PFAS exposure?

Other Links

PFAS Resources

Student PFAS Module

PFAS Webinars

PFAS Fact Sheets