What and Where is PFAS?

What are PFAS chemicals?


PFAS, short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as Forever Chemicals, are long-lasting chemicals that break down slowly over time. Since the 1940s, they have been widely used in commercial production for their resilience to stains, water and heat. However, these qualities that make it useful are also part of the problem.

Why are PFAS bad?


Most health studies have focused on PFOA, PFOS, and a handful of other PFAS chemicals, though research increasingly suggests that


replacement chemicals pose significant risks too. In epidemiological studies in people and experimental studies in animals, PFAS exposure has been associated with:

  • Increase in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol

  • Decreased antibody response to vaccines in children

  • Decreased fertility in women

  • Increased risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia

  • Kidney and testicular cancer

  • Thyroid disease

  • Chronic kidney disease, elevated uric acid, and gout

  • Liver damage

  • Immune system disruption

  • Adverse developmental outcomes, including a small decrease in birth weight and altered mammary gland development


Where PFAS is found?


PFAS are incredibly resistant to breakdown, which is why they are often called “forever chemicals.” They can remain in the body for months and in the environment for thousands of years. They can also disperse through air and water, which has led to PFAS being found in animals and environments all across the globe. It is estimated that 97% of Americans have PFAS in their blood. They can even be found in the Arctics' open waters and animals such as polar bears and arctic foxes.


How to avoid PFAS?


The resilient qualities of PFAS have led to many businesses using them in a wide range of products, such as:

  • Food packaging

  • Non-stick cookware

  • Textiles

  • Fire-fighting foams

  • Cosmetics

  • Electronics


Here are some steps everyone can take to reduce their exposure to Forever Chemicals:

  • Food: Avoid non-stick cookware and favour home-cooked meals instead of takeaways and fast food.

  • Textiles: Check for PFAS- or PFC-free labels.

  • Cosmetics: Avoid products containing chemicals with “fluoro” or PTFE in their name (check the ingredient list).


Can PFAS be removed from water?


Food and water contamination are the main routes to human exposure to PFAS. Existing technologies are non-selective, meaning they cannot remove PFAS from the water; they are affected by non-PFAS constituents and aren’t easily adaptable to comply with changing regulations.


This is where Puraffinity is filling a gap in the market. To find out more, click here.



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