Q&A: What are PFAS chemicals?
PFAS, the so-called forever chemicals, are under increased surveillance and are seen as a major public health challenge. How to reduce your exposure?
Here’s a brief question-and-answer session, based on information provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
What are they?
Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are manufactured chemicals found in fire-fighting foams, furniture, clothing, kitchenware, cosmetics, carpet coverings, food and beverage packaging. others products.
There are over 9,000 known PFAS chemicals. They have been used since the 1940s to resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water.
They are easily ingested by humans and animals, spread through air and water, and do not break down for thousands of years. Most Americans have low but measurable levels in their blood.
what are the health risks?
Scientists are studying the health effects, which can include liver damage, high cholesterol, and pregnancy issues. A 2018 CDC report linked 14 PFAS chemicals to cancer, birth defects, thyroid disease, and liver damage. Colorado health officials say that because children drink more water than adults, they may be at greater risk.
How is PFAS spread?
Some industrial sites release PFAS chemicals into the air, as well as wastewater that reaches rivers. PFAS chemicals can also sink into the soil in groundwater or spread into surface water. Firefighters who train with toxic fire-fighting foams have also been a source.
Can I remove PFAS from my drinking water?
Treatment systems for city water supplies can eliminate or at least reduce contamination of drinking water by PFAS. You can ask your water supplier about their tests for PFAS.
Home reverse osmosis water treatment systems installed under sinks can remove PFAS, state health experts say, but boiling water will not.
If your water is from a well and you live near potential sources of PFAS, test your groundwater. If the levels exceed 70 parts per trillion (the federal benchmark for safety), health officials say you should rely on bottled water or water treated with a water system. reverse osmosis.
Clean water is especially important for bottle-fed infants and pregnant women, who are planning to become pregnant or who are breastfeeding.
Do i need a blood test?
Healthcare professionals can measure PFAS chemicals in your blood. But this is not a routine test, and the chemicals show up at trace amounts in most blood samples. Colorado health officials do not recommend testing your blood unless you participate in a study.
Tests can show whether your blood level is lower or higher than that of the general population. At this time, PFAS blood test results cannot establish whether the PFAS chemicals have caused your health problems.