What are Forever Chemicals or PFAS?

What are Forever Chemicals or PFAS?

PFAS stands for perfluoroalkyl or poly-fluoroalkyl substances.

It’s a group of chemicals that have properties that allow them to repel water and oil.

Manufacturers use PFAS to make everyday household products, as well as things in industries like:

  • Aerospace
  • Construction
  • Electronics
  • The military
  • Firefighting

Are “forever chemicals,” aka PFAS, affecting your health?

According to the CDC, more than 90% of people in the United States have been exposed to “forever chemicals.” Scientific evidence suggests high exposure to “forever chemicals” is associated with certain health conditions.

Modern society is constantly exposed to PFAS. PFAS bioaccumulation (build-up) can increase the risk of long-term harm. High concentrations of certain PFAS lead to adverse health risks in people.

Toxins bioaccumulate and persist in the body for decades, breaking down slowly or not at all. Toxic build-up can impair detoxification, compromise immunity, and increase oxidative stress. Long-term exposure is linked to increased risks of thyroid issues, hormone issues, kidney cancer, and high cholesterol, among other topics. Exposure to different PFASs might have different influences on glucose homeostasis and gestational diabetes.

Polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) or “forever chemicals” are man-made chemicals used in industry and consumer products like food packaging, nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, carpets, furniture, cosmetics, dental floss, firefighting foams, artificial turf, and tap water. PFAS is found in Teflon and Scotchgard, as well as food packaging. PFASs have the unique ability to resist both water and lipids.

A study concluded that using Oral-B Glide to floss one’s teeth was associated with higher levels of PFAS perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS) in the body. PFAS includes 4,700 substances used in various consumer products due to their water and stain-repellent properties. Unfortunately, they are highly persistent in the environment. Scientific evidence linked PFAS exposure to severe health impacts, including lower birth weight and size, delayed puberty, reduced hormone levels, decreased immune response to vaccines, testicular and kidney cancer, obesity, liver malfunction, hypothyroidism, or high cholesterol.

PFAS is prevalent at sites where the chemicals are commonly found, such as industrial plants that use them in manufacturing, civilian airports where firefighting foam is used, wastewater treatment plants, and military bases. The chemical industry promotes using PFAS to make food packaging grease-and-water-resistant. However, the chemicals have been linked to cancer, liver damage, and immune suppression. The science around the potential health impacts of PFAS exposure is still emerging, but evidence suggests that high PFAS exposure is associated with certain health conditions.

How to determine if you should get tested for PFAS?

Do you struggle with these symptoms?

Altered risk of asthma, allergies, and altered antibody response to infections and vaccines

Changes in puberty timing, sex hormones, thyroid hormones, and diabetes risk

Changes in body weight, size, and growth

Changes in bone mineral content and density

Changes in the risk of cardiac events

Increased risk of kidney disease

Increased risk of kidney, testicular, pancreatic, breast, and other types of cancers

Skin irritation and sensitization

Increased inflammation and increased oxidative stress

Changes in DNA methylation

Increased cell toxicity and cell mortality

Researchers point out that exposure to two forms of PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), is linked to kidney and testicular cancer. In addition, they are associated with reduced semen quality, ulcerative colitis in adults and children, thyroid disease, immune responses, and reductions in sex and growth hormone levels.

Testing for PFAS can reveal the status of toxic metabolites in the body.

Knowing your PFAS exposure level is the first step to reducing toxic risk and creating a personalized detox and wellness plan to achieve better health. The PFAS Lab Test monitors exposure to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, commonly called “PFAS.” PFAS makes fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. PFAS are found in the air, soil, water, and everyday consumer goods.

What about tap water?

A United States Geological Survey study titled the Tap Water Study concludes that at least 45% of the nation’s tap water contains one or multiple types of chemicals known as polyfluorinated alkyl substances, or PFAS. There are at least 12,000 PFAS chemicals, and not all can be detected with the current tests; this study tested 32 types of PFAS. These chemicals break down very slowly. Therefore, they are called “forever chemicals.” Their prevalence across the country makes them a water-quality concern for everyone.

Drinking water quality is a rising concern in the United States, emphasizing the need to assess exposures and potential health effects at the point of use. Drinking water exposure to per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is a national concern. However, more information must be provided on PFAS in residential tap water at the point of use, especially from private wells.

Studies from decades ago that were hidden could have curbed the PFAS problem.

According to an editorial published, chemical companies kept studies from the 1970s and early 1980s under wraps as pollution spread across the U.S. The editorial published in Environmental Health suggests research on PFAS, aka perfluorinated alkylate substance, and the dangerous health effects were not revealed until many decades after the research was conducted. The editorial explained that studies were conducted up to four decades ago. These studies found negative health impacts, including on the immune system, from these chemicals. Still, production companies, like 3M Co, hid those studies.

Despite the voluminous research on the negative health impacts, 3M, the company that first developed PFOA and PFOS, continued producing and using these chemicals. 3M sold PFOA chemicals to DuPont for many years, stating the compounds do not cause health problems, even though they had scientific evidence showing they did cause harm.

More Coverup?

A United States toxicologist was prohibited from sharing the truth about the dangers of PFAS in humans.

The former head of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Linda Birnbaum, says she was prohibited from claiming that PFAS causes human disease. She tried to alarm others about the health impacts of PFAS and glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup, but she was attacked personally and professionally.

This was no surprise to anyone following the medical literature on the industrial chemicals used to make nonstick coatings, firefighting foam, and other products. Volumes of scholarly articles link these chemicals to over 800 adverse health effects. The common ones for humans are elevated cholesterol levels, weight gain, liver dysfunction, reproductive complications, and kidney cancer. Research showed that children with higher levels of PFAS have weakened immune systems.

DuPont paid over $1 billion in a legal case for the health dangers of PFAS compounds and subsequently spun off its division, which makes PFAS compounds, to a new company, Chemours. During the litigation, DuPont’s lawyers were forbidden from questioning the causal relationship between exposure to the chemical and six different diseases, including testicular and kidney cancer.

Approximately 5,000 PFAS chemicals are still in use today. We need to learn more about the uses and hazards of exposure to PFAS. Many believe that the safe level of PFAS for humans is as low as 1.0-0.1 PPT. That’s why this research is essential for protecting public health, but will the truth be told, and will something be done about it?

Bottom Line

You must be proactive in limiting your exposure to PFAS.

Here are some vital steps to take:

Get your water tested 

Drink filtered, reverse osmosis water.

Get yourself tested annually to determine your baseline and compare your results to the previous year to stay on top of your total wellness.

Make your health your #1 priority in all your decisions to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. 

Take actions and get tested today and find out your levels.

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