“PFAS” is a buzz word that you may have begun to hear in recent years, but what are these substances and chemicals all about? Are they actually harmful to humans and to the environment? PFAS, or Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances is a synthetic chemical that persistently remains in the environment and can be toxic to the human body. Unfortunately, PFAS is found widely in a number of products that many consumers use daily such as pizza boxes and other food packaging items, non-stick pots and pans, and stain and water repellent fabrics. The good news, however, is that the United States has stopped the manufacturing of these products. Unfortunately, they do continue to be imported into the country from other places.
The main issue with PFAS arises when it begins to break down within these products leading to the PFAS chemical being released into the air, water, and environment. This chemical can make its way into our landfills, plants, animal tissues, and drinking water, which may go on to be consumed by humans ultimately causing those substances and chemicals to enter the body. PFAS is both persistent and toxic to the human body and can cause high cholesterol, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, low birth weight, hypertension during pregnancy, and can impact liver function and immune systems. PFAS can remain in the body even after exposure stops which is what makes the substance so dangerous.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the vast majority of Americans have been exposed to and store these chemicals in their blood, and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) estimates that 110 million Americans are potentially drinking PFAS-contaminated water every day. With statistics such as these, it is incredibly important that action be taken to reduce the amount of PFAS in products that consumers use.
The IWRC is taking action to help divert waste from the landfills in one effort to prevent PFAS from entering our water and food sources. To learn more about PFAS or about what you can do, visit our website.
By Elle Olthoff