Forever Chemicals: What They Are and Why You Should Care?
What are “forever chemicals?” You may have heard the term in the news lately. These chemicals, also known as PFAS (poly-fluoroalkyl substances), are synthetic compounds that are used in a variety of consumer products. But what exactly are they, and why are they causing concern?
Special to the Roosevelt Island Daily News
What are Forever Chemicals?
PFAS are a class of chemicals widely used in products like non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing and food packaging. Also used in industrial processes such as firefighting foam and metal plating, for example.
They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment. They accumulate, instead in the soil, water and air.
Health hazards associated with PFAS exposure include developmental problems, decreased fertility and increased risk of certain cancers. PFAS exposure can also impact on the immune system, leading to decreased vaccine effectiveness and increased risk of infection.
Communities across the country have been affected by PFAS contamination in their water supply.
For example, in the town of Hoosick Falls, New York, the village water supply was contaminated with PFAS from a nearby industrial plant. Many residents tested positive with cancer, and the community has dealt with the issue for years without a clear solution.
The environmental impact of PFAS is also a concern, as these chemicals can accumulate in the food chain and harm wildlife. For example, studies have shown that PFAS exposure has led to decreased fertility in birds and liver damage in fish.
Regulations and Solutions
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a lifetime health advisory for PFAS in drinking water at 70 parts per trillion. But many experts argue that this limit is too high and does not adequately protect public health.
There are steps that individuals can take to limit their exposure to PFAS. Avoiding products that contain PFAS and using home water filtration systems designed to remove these chemicals are great places to start.
Some companies and industries are also taking steps to reduce their use of PFAS and find safer alternatives.
PFAS, or “forever chemicals,” a class of synthetic compounds, are common in a wide range of consumer products and industrial processes. They do not break down in the environment and pose a risk to human and environmental health.
But as individuals and communities, we can take steps to limit our exposure to PFAS and advocate for stronger regulations and solutions to this issue.