How Are PFAS Harmful To Our Health?

What is PFAS?

Polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) are highly fluorinated chemicals, prized by manufacturers for their grease- and water-proofing properties, and the chemical industry is constantly searching for new applications. While convenient in the kitchen, PFAS exposure to humans causes liver cancer and kidney cancer, decreased fertility, increase incidents of thyroid problems, and decrease the immune response to vaccines in children.

Local residents of the Ohio River Valley in West Virginia were systematically exposed to PFAS for several decades. This exposure came through intentional dumping of chemicals by companies like DuPont Chemical. This occurs while the company had knowledge of the health risks.

PFAS are a group of synthetic chemicals found in Georgia’s groundwater that have been linked to serious adverse health effects including thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, testicular and kidney cancers, low infant birth weight, and low vaccine efficacy. Due to their chemical makeup, PFAS are extremely difficult and expensive to remove from the environment and have earned the name “forever chemicals”

Learn More:

Similar stories like this one play out across the nation. Companies such as 3M’s pollution of drinking water in Minnesota and high incidences of cancer resulting from fouled water in Hoosick Falls, NY.

Read More:

After you find out that PFAS is harmful, the next question is where are they found? Learn more about PFAS and product that you likely use now that contain PFAS:
Here are some products that may contain PFAS:
  • Some grease-resistant paper.
  • Fast food containers/wrappers.
  • Microwave popcorn bags.
  • Pizza boxes
  • Candy wrappers.
  • Nonstick cookware.
  • Stain-resistant coatings used on carpets, upholstery, and other fabrics.
  • Water-resistant clothing.
  • Cleaning products.
  • Personal care products (shampoo, dental floss)
  • Cosmetics (nail polish, eye makeup) 
  • Paints, varnishes, and sealants 

Other health professionals (for example, for concerns about babies and children contact your regional Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit or PEHSU: icon.

How can we get tested for this? CDC suggests

Image courtesy of