What Are PFAS? How To Safeguard Your Family Against Contaminated Drinking Water
By Marilee Nelson |
Many of the everyday, ordinary items we interact with (think takeout containers, carpets, camping equipment, nail polish, lipstick, upholstered furniture, non-stick pans, umbrellas, rain gear, and so much more) may have something in common; they may contain harmful man-made chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also referred to as the "everywhere chemical" or the "forever chemical."
Unfortunately, in our day and age these chemicals have found their way into so many of our surroundings, but one seems to be the most detrimental. That would be our municipal water supplies. This poses a significant risk to public health.
In this blog post, we’re going to shed light on the prevalence and dangers of PFAS and discuss practical ways to protect both ourselves and our families from their harmful effects. Don’t worry, there’s a way to safeguard yourself and your loved ones from PFAS.
So, let’s dive right in!
The Pervasive Presence of PFAS
PFAS are widely-used chemicals that have been around since the 1950s, originally invented by chemistss to create versatile materials with unique properties that could be used in various industrial and commercial applications.
Chemists doing research discovered that the carbon-fluorine bond in PFAS provided exceptional resistance to heat, water, oil, and other chemicals, which made them highly attractive for manufacturing products with properties such as non-stick, water repellency, and resistance to stains and grease. It was a one-of-a-kind substance, and companies were excited to adopt PFAS into their product lines. Some early products with PFAS included non-stick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, and fire-fighting foams.
Today, there are approximately 9,000 PFAS chemicals in existence. That’s right, 9,000! Of all of those thousands, the most common are Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA). You may hear those words or acronyms used from time to time.
So what is wrong with these chemicals?
PFAS are not degradable and they ultimately accumulate in our environment and bodies over time. When ingested or absorbed, PFAS can actually build up in our organs and tissues. The carbon-fluorine bonds in PFAS make them highly stable, allowing them to resist breakdown processes in the body. As a result, PFAS have a long life, meaning it takes a significant amount of time for the body to eliminate them.
All You Need To Know About PFAS
Where are they coming from?
Manufacturing and treatment sites are the major contributors to PFAS pollution, releasing these chemicals into water supplies and the air.
In the US, over 41,000 sites are known to emit PFAS.
Where are they hiding in our everyday products?
PFAS are widespread and are found in various products in our current day and age. Some of the most common examples include:
- household cleaning products
- stain-resistant fabrics
- food wrappers
- non-stick cookware
- outdoor gear
- and so many more, as this is just scratching the surface.
Even "green" labeled products are not necessarily safe these days due to limited regulation and incomplete disclosure. This is why it’s so important to understand the materials our products are made from and where they are made!
What can we do?
The Health Risks of PFAS Exposure
When our bodies take in PFAS chemicals, sadly they do not readily degrade and end up accumulating in our bodies. Almost all Americans have PFAS in their blood, and these chemicals have even been found in the umbilical cord blood of babies and breast milk.
This is extremely unfortunate as the harmful effects of PFAS include (but are not limited to):
- endocrine disruption
- increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer
- liver and thyroid problems
- reproductive issues such as birth defects and delayed puberty
As you can see, cumulative exposure to PFAS over time can significantly impact our health, making it crucial to avoid over-accumulation of these chemicals for ourselves and our families.
Protecting Your Water Supply
Sadly, it is no longer safe to assume that tap water or bottled water is free from PFAS contamination. While some progress has been made in Europe regarding the banning of PFAS, the U.S. government's actions have been slower.
Selecting an effective water filtration system is essential to remove PFAS from your drinking water and make your water safe for everyone in your family to drink. It’s important to be cautious of over-the-counter and portable water filters, as many do not effectively filter out PFAS.
If you have the budget for it, consider investing in a quality whole-house water filter for maximum protection. We talk much more in depth about water filtration systems in our article How to Choose the Best Water Filter for Every Home and Budget, so make sure to check out that article.
Ensuring that our essential resources like water and air stay pure and safe is absolutely vital for our health, and also the health of our planet! Relying solely on government regulations and restrictions isn't sufficient to keep our loved ones safe. That's why it's crucial for us to take diligent and proactive measures to prioritize the safety of our water supply. Consider contacting Dr. Speiser of CWR if you have questions about your water supply and PFAS contamination.
Let's continue to empower ourselves with education about PFAS and commit to a future where every individual has the fundamental right to access safe drinking water!
YOU have the power to make a difference! By making informed choices and taking action to minimize the impact of PFAS pollution, we can create healthier homes and a cleaner, greener future.
Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.