Why Is PFAS Called The Forever Chemical

PFAS: The Forever Chemical

Source: https://youtu.be/oaxsaY9lIWE <https://youtu.be/oaxsaY9lIWE>

“PFAS” is short for per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances – a family of chemicals used to make common household products and waterproof clothing. PFAS — per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances — are known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in nature, and they’re found in all kinds of products, from nonstick cookware to firefighting foams.

They’re being found in an increasing number of drinking water sources, and research is only beginning to determine the health effects and what treatments there might be. Great Lakes Now reports on how some communities are coping and paying for the contaminations and cleanups.

California health officials indicate they intend to add perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) to a list of restricted chemicals in the state, requiring extensive label warnings to alert consumers about the potential health risks associated with exposure.

PFOA is no longer made in the U.S., and are part of a group of toxic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, thyroid problems, rampant water contamination, and may even reduce the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. It was used primarily in the creation of nonstick surfaces, but can also be found in certain types of firefighting foam and protective equipment.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (conjugate base perfluorooctanoate) — also known colloquially as C8 — is a perfluorinated carboxylic acid produced and used worldwide as an industrial surfactant in chemical processes and as a material feedstock. It is a product of health concern and subject to regulatory action and voluntary industrial phase-outs. PFOA is considered a surfactant, or fluorosurfactant, due to its chemical structure, which consists of a perfluorinated, n-octyl “tail group” and a carboxylate “head group”. The head group can be described as hydrophilic while the fluorocarbon tail is both hydrophobic and lipophobic. The tail group is inert and does not interact strongly with polar or non-polar chemical moieties; the head group is reactive and interacts strongly with polar groups, specifically water. The “tail” is hydrophobic due to being non-polar and lipophobic because fluorocarbons are less susceptible to the London dispersion force than hydrocarbons.[2]


  1. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfluorooctanoic_acid
  2. Lemal DM (January 2004). “Perspective on fluorocarbon chemistry”. J. Org. Chem69 (1): 1–11. doi:10.1021/jo0302556PMID 14703372.
  3. VISIT GreatLakesNow.org <www.youtube.com/redirect?event=video_description&redir_token=QUFFLUhqbEQ1QXEtZDJEakpmMVNwOVhadXd4Vk5xZ2Y5d3xBQ3Jtc0tsUEh1SmpqdzAxcTJtZ1RrbmUyaGVQNDVwZmd2OC1zNFhpc3ZaUktBb2ZsREwxVV9Kd0lmUmx4Mmh2UEpU…>​, a Detroit Public Television initiative.