What Products Contain PFAS?
May 16 2021
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS for short, are a group of manmade chemicals which are notorious for the amount of time they are able to persist in the natural environment and their ability to bypass wastewater filtration processes. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals” and their propensity to accumulate in the atmosphere – as well as infiltrate even the furthest reaches of the planet – is a cause for concern among the scientific and healthcare communities.
That’s due to the fact that several studies have pointed to concerning links between elevated concentrations of PFAS in the human body and a raft of health complications, including cancer. So which products contain PFAS? How do you become exposed to them? And what is being done to curb their pervasive influence?
PFAS were originally engineered in the 1940s as a means of adding stain-, water- and grease-repellent properties to a surface or material, as well as creating non-stick capabilities for certain commodities. Their applications have expanded significantly since then and now include:
- Non-stick pots, pans and household cookware
- Protective layering for carpets, leathers and textiles
- Food packaging, such as pizza boxes, fast-food wrappers and microwavable bags
- Waterproof coats, jackets and other forms of clothing
- Ski, snowboard and surfboard waxes
- Firefighting foams
- Electronic items such as laptops and smartphones
- Dental floss
- Certain types of plastic and rubber
This list is by no means an exhaustive one and although the production and processing of several PFAS have become prohibited under British, European and American law, their ability to persist in the environment (and travel from far-flung locations) means that they are still present in the atmosphere of virtually every corner of the globe.
How am I exposed?
PFAS can infiltrate the human body in a number of different ways. Perhaps the most concerning of these is via drinking water supplies, since PFAS-contaminated soil and run-off can leak into streams, rivers and other waterways, eventually ending up in the reservoirs upon which we depend to draw the resource that keeps all life on the planet alive. With that in mind, there are several sophisticated methods of monitoring drinking water for PFAS – including a Screening technique for Adsorbable Organic Fluoride (AOF) concentrations with the Xprep C-IC – aimed at keeping humans safe from dangerous levels of PFAS pollution.
However, drinking water isn’t the only threat which PFAS pose. By accumulating in our seas and oceans, they can become ingested by small marine fish and mammals, which are eaten by larger animals further up the food chain. In this way, they can infiltrate the food which arrives on our plate in the shape of meat, poultry and seafood. But even vegans and vegetarians aren’t safe, since they can also corrupt plant matter via contaminated soil, PFAS processing methods or food packaging containing the chemicals. As such, exposure to the substances is almost inevitable, though governments are investigating whether or not more PFAS should be banned in the future.
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