And why are they in my water?

The Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’

PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances), also known as C8, stands for a group of manmade chemicals, including PFOA and PFOS, with several characteristics critical to product applications across many industries and hundreds of everyday products. PFAS is created by joining a chain of carbon and fluorine atoms, one of the strongest bonds made in organic chemistry – the root of its resistance. Processes to produce PFAS commercially began in the 1940s. Dupont started with its infamous nonstick Teflon coating, and in the 1950s, 3M began producing PFAS for everyday product applications to repel water, protect surfaces, resist heat, prevent stains and many other useful needs, including life-saving capabilities.

In the 1960s, the United States Navy developed and patented firefighting foams using PFAS, with support from 3M, to protect the lives of sailors, airmen and flight officers after 134 sailors died in a fire aboard the USS Forrestal in 1967. To this day, the military requires use of these PFAS-based surfactants.

In the years that followed, 3M found that PFAS was becoming widely present, in tiny amounts, throughout the environment, animals and people. Knowing the potential for PFAS to build up over time, 3M voluntarily phased out its production – the first company to do so. And Dupont’s role with PFAS was recently featured in the 2019 movie “Dark Waters” in which a number of unexplained illnesses and deaths were linked back to the corporation knowingly contaminating the area around Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Why This Matters

PFAS, known now as the ‘Forever Chemicals,’ are not natural and may take a VERY long time to break down in the environment and in our bodies. There is no known way to destroy them. And they are regularly used across the globe. This is where you can see the problem and potential for build up in nature and in the organs and tissues of humans and animals.

‘Forever Chemicals’ are found in 99% of Americans.

PFAS has become so commonly found in our everyday lives and products, that the public and policymakers are unfortunately, just starting to take notice and action on this growing concern. We know lead is a major concern today from long-term testing and research. But we have yet to tap the full impact of PFAS.

“For decades, chemical companies covered up evidence of PFAS’ health hazards. Today nearly all Americans, including newborn babies, have PFAS in their blood, and up to 110 million people may be drinking PFAS-tainted water. What began as a “miracle of modern chemistry” is now a national crisis.” ~ EWG.org reports.

The Risk

PFAS has been around for decades and may be found in paper coating for food wrappers and baked goods, waterproof clothing and leather, pesticides, firefighting foams, polishes, adhesives, paints, waxes, protective sprays, personal care products and cosmetics, carpets and upholstery, heat resistant items, non-stick pans, and so much more. Through so many ways, PFAS can leach into the environment, and so it can find its way into animals and people. Once PFAS makes its way into our natural surroundings, then you begin to find the chemicals flowing through our water supply.

The EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) has set a lifetime health advisory level for PFAS at just 70 parts per trillion. That is for every trillion water molecules in a sample, there can be only 70 PFAS molecules.

Testing has found that high levels of PFAS may cause:

  • low birth weights
  • reproductive problems
  • effects on the immune system
  • thyroid dysfunctions
  • increased cholesterol levels and blood pressure
  • risk of liver, testicular, kidney and pancreatic cancer

What’s Being Done

Even though the EPA has begun to setup guidelines for protection, many feel this is not enough. Chemicals found in tap water are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act passed in 1974. However, a new chemical hasn’t been added to the list since 1996 because of an amendment that allowed the EPA, instead of Congress, to decide when to add a new chemical into its regulatory repertoire. The amendment also made it more difficult to prove that a chemical was irrefutably a human health threat. Last December, the agency submitted PFAS for internal review where its regulatory fate is still being deliberated.

Knowing the escalating concerns, many states have enacted their own limits on PFAS. And after decades, companies are pledging to remove the known PFAS chemicals from products. Even during this time of the coronavirus outbreak, many researchers have not stopped studying PFAS and its effects on the environment and our health.

What You Can Do

The best thing to do is learn more. As you know, the World Wide Web is full of resources, and we have included some of them below.

Find out which products may have PFAS chemicals and consider alternatives. The EWG provides the following helpful tips in this PDF download, “Guide to Avoiding PFAS Chemicals,” available on their website – https://static.ewg.org/ewg-tip-sheets/EWG-AvoidingPFCs.pdf?_ga=2.205646547.1585046097.1593719414-1127783257.1591726907

Also know that many general water pitcher filters and faucet filters are not designed to remove PFAS chemicals from your drinking water.

We hope you will also contact Gordon Bros. Water. We can help you get started with a FREE water test and custom estimate as needed. We can also provide options for specific drinking water and working water needs for your home and business. Gordon Bros. has affordable options and plans. Just give us a call at 800-331-7611 to speak to a water expert directly or visit https://gordonbroswater.com to request more information and get the #BestWaterOnTap.

Resources:
https://www.pfasfacts.com
https://eponline.com/articles/2017/06/15/what-is-pfas.aspx
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/01/pfas-contamination-safe-drinking-water-study/
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/03/toxic-chemical-pfas-found-in-north-carolina-striped-bass/
https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/health-effects.html