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PFAS

Overview

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many others. PFAS are used in a variety of consumer products including non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, firefighting foams, and food packaging. Studies have shown that exposure to certain PFAS can cause adverse health effects including reproductive, developmental, and organ damage, impacts on the immune system, thyroid disruption, and cancer. Some manufacturers have voluntarily phased so-called long-chain PFAS, such as PFOA and PFOS, and replaced them with their short-chain cousins but early evidence suggests that these are just as harmful.

NCEL Point of Contact
Mara Herman

Environmental Health Manager

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Key Facts

PFAS do not break down naturally and can bioaccumulate in the environment and in the bodies of living organisms like humans.

The drinking water of over six million Americans has been found to contain highly fluorinated chemicals at concentrations of concern.

Exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans causing reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects.

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Resources

NCEL Resources

Online Resources

2022 PFAS Legislative Toolkit

Toolkit put together by Safer States information on PFAS and policy recommendations for how best to address it in a variety of products.

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Safer States: PFAS

Safer States database of state legislation on PFAS

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EPA Health Advisories

EPA’s drinking water health advisories for PFOA and PFOS.

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PFAS Contamination Sites

CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry list of PFAS-related contamination sites.

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Interactive Map: PFAS Contamination

Environmental Working Group map of sites tested for PFAS contamination in drinking water.

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