The term, “PFAS,” stands for Per-and-Polyfluoroalkyl substances.
PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used in manufacturing since the 1940s. They are oil, stain, and water resistant1 and have very strong chemical bonds which prevent them from breaking apart in the body or in the environment. Because of these and many other valuable properties, thousands of tons of PFAS have been made and used around the world2. You cannot see or smell PFAS, but the chemicals have been measured in air, water, and soils around the world – even in areas where they aren’t made or used. Laboratories have detected PFAS in rainwater, plants, muscle tissues of fish and animals, household dust, and in blood.
Some common household items that use PFAS include:
- non-stick pots and pans;
- stain and water-resistant shoes, clothing, and furniture
- fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags
- fire-extinguisher foams
1. Banks R, Smart B. JC Tatlow in Organofluorine Chemistry, Principles and Commercial Applications. Topics in Applied Chemistry. 1994;549
2. Prevedouros K, Cousins IT, Buck RC, Korzeniowski SH. Sources, fate and transport of perfluorocarboxylates. Environ Sci Technol. Jan 1 2006;40(1):32-44. doi:10.1021/es0512475