What do fast-food wrappers, pizza boxes, nail polish, and water-repellant clothing have in common? These and many other commonly used products contain some nasty, highly pervasive man-made chemicals that have seeped into our environment – including our municipal water supply -- and are threatening public health.
Dubbed the “everywhere chemical” or the “forever chemical”, per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), have been widely used since the 1950s. Because they aren’t degradable, they accumulate in our environment – and our bodies -- over time. Most Americans are completely unsuspecting of their prevalence as well as the damage these stubborn chemicals can do.
Where Do They Come From?
There are an estimated 9,000 PFAS chemicals in existence today, with Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) among the most common ones. PFAS are found in the foams used by firefighters and also in not-so-obvious items such as household cleaning products, stain-resistant furniture, carpeting, water-proof clothing and shoes, and non-stick chemical coatings in our cookware (think Teflon). PFAS have also been found in fast-food wrappers, pizza boxes, bags containing microwavable popcorn, and personal care products such as nail polish, cosmetics, and lipsticks –sometimes even those products labeled as “green”.
For people who live near manufacturing and treatment sites, the problem is even worse, as these plants are responsible for the release of a large amount of PFAS dumped not only into our water supplies, but also into the air. How many problematic sites are there? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports over 41,000 sites here in the U.S. that are known to emit PFAS. These include not just chemical manufacturers, but manufacturers of semiconductors, electrical components, plastics and resin, paint and coatings, commercial printers, and petroleum stations. A shocking 1,500 textile mills here in America are also believed to be discharging these dangerous chemicals (according to EPA data released by the EWG).
And landfills all across the country along with with sewage and waste treatment plants are contributing to this problem that threatens our health, and that of our children.
What Are the Harmful Effects of PFAS?
Remember that these “forever chemicals” don’t readily degrade. Occasional exposure to these chemicals may not seem like much, but it’s the cumulative effect of the ingestion of PFAS that has landed these chemicals on my “high-alert” list. In other words, these chemicals build up over time as we are exposed again and again to them.
Nearly all of us here in the U.S. have PFAS in our blood. In fact, these chemicals are found in the umbilical cord blood of babies as well as the breast milk provided for them! The most vulnerable of our population is starting out at a distinctive disadvantage.
Over time, these chemicals can do a lot of damage in our bodies:
- PFAS are endocrine-disrupting chemicals and can wreak havoc with our hormones;
- PFAS are related to kidney and testicular cancer;
- PFAS are also related to liver and thyroid problems;
- PFAS have been linked to an increased risk of birth defects and other reproductive problems, including the timing of puberty in our children.
Bottom line? It’s HIGHLY advisable to avoid the over-accumulation of PFAS for yourself and for your family. But how do you do that?
Making Your Water Safe to Drink
Gone are the days when you could assume that the drinking water that comes from your tap – or even the bottled water you pay for – is safe to consume.
Europe seems to be moving faster than the U.S. in banning these chemicals. To date, approximately 32 states are considering bills to restrict PFAS. But in my opinion, we can’t afford to wait for our government to make the necessary restrictions.
It takes a special kind of water filter to trap these “everywhere, forever” chemicals. Be wary of over-the-counter and portable water filters that may not have the capability to filter out these bad boys. A better option is a quality whole-house water filter.
When it comes to water and air— the basic, essential necessities for maintaining human life on Earth – we simply can’t deny the fact that these essentials remain in jeopardy. I’ve devoted my life to helping my fellow citizens mitigate air and waterborne toxins through consumer education and the use of reliable filtration technologies.
As a water quality expert and health practitioner, I’ve dedicated more than 35 years to designing affordable, effective water filtration systems that will remove the range of toxic contaminants found in your home water supply. It’s a combination of unique filtration components and filter media that creates maximum water contamination barriers.
Our one and only goal at CWR Environmental is to help you protect your health, improve the quality of your life, and ensure your water is as clean as nature intended. Please contact me so that I may help you determine the water filtration system that is best for your family and home.
For A Complimentary Consultation:
“Fact Sheet PFOA & PFOS Drinking Water Health Advisories,” EPA 800-F-16-003, USEPA (Nov 2016). https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/drinking-water-health-advisories-pfoa-and-pfos
“Technical fact sheet – PFOS and PFOA,” EPA 505-F-17-001. USEPA (Nov 2017).
David Andrew, “Report: up to 110 million Americans could have PFAS-contaminated drinking water,” Environmental Working Group (May, 22 2018). https://www.ewg.org/research/report-110-million-americans-could-have-pfas-contaminated-drinking-water#.WxALu2nwazd
F. Coperchini, L. Croce, G. Ricci, et al., “Thyroid Disrupting Effects of Old and New Generation PFAS,” Laboratory for Endocrine Disruptors, Unit of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, Istituti Clinici Scientifici Maugeri IRCCS, Pavia, Italy, Front, Endocrinol, Jan 19, 2021). Sec. Thyroid Endocrinology, https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2020.612320.
“PFAS in drinking water,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (Feb 2019). https://www.michigan.gov/documents/pfasresponse/PFAS_in_Drinking_Water_624844_7.pdf
“PFOA/PFOS in drinking water,” NSF website: http://www.nsf.org/consumer-resources/water-quality/drinking-water/perfluorooctanoic-acid-and-perfluorooctanesulfonic-acid-in-drinking-water
“A PSA on PFAS: How can you filter them from your drinking water?” Vestergaard; https://vestergaard.com/blogs/what-are-pfas/