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PFAS Information

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. Fluoropolymer coatings can be in a variety of products.

Some of the information below has been excerpted from the Environmental Protection Agency╩╗s (EPA) website external link. Please note as the EPA increases its understanding of PFAS a a chemical class, the information is updated.


light bulb For more in-depth information: https://www.epa.gov/pfas/our-current-understanding-human-health-and-environmental-risks-pfas external link

What are PFAS?

PFAS are a group of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s because of their useful properties. There are thousands of different PFAS, some of which have been more widely used and studied than others. Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS), for example, are two of the most widely used and studied chemicals in the PFAS group. PFOA and PFOS have been replaced in the United States with other PFAS in recent years.

One common characteristic of concern of PFAS is that many break down very slowly and can build up in people, animals, and the environment over time. This is why they are called forever chemicals.

Where are PFAS found?

PFAS can be present in our water, soil, air, and food as well as in materials found in our homes or workplaces, including:

  • Drinking water – in public drinking water systems and private drinking water wells.
  • Soil and water at or near waste sites – at landfills, disposal sites, and hazardous waste sites such as those that fall under the federal Superfund and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act programs.
  • Fire extinguishing foam – in aqueous film-forming foams (or AFFFs) used to extinguish flammable liquid-based fires. Such foams are used in training and emergency response events at airports, shipyards, military bases, firefighting training facilities, chemical plants, and refineries.
  • Manufacturing or chemical production facilities that produce or use PFAS – for example at chrome plating, electronics, and certain textile and paper manufacturers.
  • Food – for example in fish caught from water contaminated by PFAS and dairy products from livestock exposed to PFAS.
  • Food packaging – for example in grease-resistant paper, fast food containers/wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, and candy wrappers.
  • Household products and dust – for example in stain and water-repellent used on carpets, upholstery, clothing, and other fabrics; cleaning products; non-stick cookware; paints, varnishes, and sealants.
  • Personal care products – for example in certain shampoo, dental floss, and cosmetics.
  • Biosolids – for example fertilizer from wastewater treatment plants that is used on agricultural lands can affect ground and surface water and animals that graze on the land.

Health Exposure Concerns

Current scientific research suggests that exposure to high levels of certain PFAS may lead to adverse health outcomes. However, research is still ongoing to determine how different levels of exposure to different PFAS can lead to a variety of health effects. Research is also underway to better understand the health effects associated with low levels of exposure to PFAS over long periods of time, especially in children.

What We Know about Health Effects

Current peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown that exposure to certain levels of PFAS (specially PFOAS and PFOS) may lead to:

  • Reproductive effects such as decreased fertility or increased high blood pressure in pregnant women.
  • Developmental effects or delays in children, including low birth weight, accelerated puberty, bone variations, or behavioral changes.
  • Increased risk of some cancers, including prostate, kidney, and testicular cancers.
  • Reduced ability of the body’s immune system to fight infections, including reduced vaccine response.
  • Interference with the body’s natural hormones.
  • Increased cholesterol levels and/or risk of obesity.

Additional Health Effects are Difficult to Determine

Scientists at EPA, in other federal agencies, and in academia and industry are continuing to conduct and review the growing body of research about PFAS. However, health effects associated with exposure to PFAS are difficult to specify for many reasons, such as:

  • There are thousands of PFAS with potentially varying effects and toxicity levels, yet most studies focus on a limited number of better known PFAS compounds.
  • People can be exposed to PFAS in different ways and at different stages of their life.
  • The types and uses of PFAS change over time, which makes it challenging to track and assess how exposure to these chemicals occurs and how they will affect human health.

light bulb For more information on PFAS: 
https://www.epa.gov/pfas/our-current-understanding-human-health-and-environmental-risks-pfas external link

light bulb EPA Quick Links
- PFOA, PFOS, and Other PFAS external link
- Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule external link

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Updated: 05/05/2023