What are PFAS(s)?

"Poly Whats?"


is short for

per/polyfluoroalkyl substance(s)

If you remember from your basic chemistry classes back in high schools, most oils and fats, as well as carbohydrates are made of chains of carbon atoms. Usually, with 1, 2 or 3 hydrogen atoms connected to each carbon. PFASs are the same except that those hydrogen atoms have been partially or completely replaced by fluorine atoms. Those fluorine atoms make these substances environmentally persistent chemicals. In layman's terms: they do not break down naturally in the environment. They are a large family with virtually endless possibility for new variants, and all have the potential of being toxic to humans.

PFAS are found essentially everywhere due to their wide range of uses, environmental persistence, and ability to travel through air and water. PFAS are manufactured compounds commonly found in industries or products requiring non-stick, or stain resistant properties and applications. The plethora of products includes food processing equipment, food packaging, fire-fighting foams, polishes and waxes, paper plates, stain resistant fabrics/carpets, and non-stick pans. PFASs enter the water supply through these sources via a chain of events: PFASs are used in manufacturing processes, then manufacturing run-off of PFASs gets into the water supply, or the manufactured products end up in a landfill and the PFASs leach out into groundwater. This contaminated water then spreads via natural water cycle pathways, spreading the PFASs with it. Eventually, that water makes its way into drinking water treatment facilities, which are not equipped to remove PFASs, or even to detect their presence. That is due to the lack of known PFAS remediation techniques, and results in humans drinking PFAS-contaminated water. These molecules then bio-accumulate in human bodies, because our bodies can’t break them down, or flush them out easily. Therefore, it takes years for the molecules to make their way out of the human body. In other words, they tend to build up in the body faster than they are removed, which can exacerbate the health effects perpetrated by PFASs.

Understanding How PFAS(s) Enter the Environment

Understanding How PFAS(s) Enter Our Bodies

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