What are PFAS?
PFAS, poly and perfluoroalkyl substances, are a complex group of man-made, organic chemicals. Several of these fluorinated compounds are being found at concerning levels in the environment. PFAS have several unique characteristics including their ability to repel oil and water on surfaces. This and other extensive applications have centered them in many industries that produce consumer goods for the past 70 years. With such wide use in a variety of industries and the products they produce, many have been exposed to these compounds.
Sources of PFAS
PFAS can come from a variety of sources, both directly and indirectly. Examples include manufacturing companies that either release the chemical waste into the environment during production, or directly into the products to be used as a surfactant. You may also come into contact with PFCs through AFFF (Aqueous film forming foam) used to fight fires, from leachate at landfills, or stain repellent fabric protectors. PFAS can also be found in food packaging, nonstick cookware, clothing made to be waterproof, and types of carpet.
Why Test for PFAS?
The carbon-fluoride bond in PFAS is one of the strongest bonds making the compounds extremely difficult to breakdown or denature. This leads to PFAS bio-accumulating and bio-magnifying in the ecosystem, as well as having a half life of anywhere between 2 and 9 years in the human body. The EPA has set a lifetime health advisory for all PFOA and PFOS at 70ppt combined. High concentrations of PFAS in blood has been linked to many adverse health concerns such as: low infant birth rate, reproductive cancers, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and hormone disruption. Testing wastewater and drinking water provides answers and awareness for members of the community so they may take proper action to avoid further exposure to PFAS.