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PFAS - Causes, Symptoms, and Regulations

Published on Sep 13, 2022   -  6 min read

Abstract

PFAS are also known as Forever chemicals as they are difficult to excrete from the body and have no study on how to destroy or remove them.

Contents

Introduction

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS, are chemicals that are used in industry and consumer products used to prevent corrosion and reduce friction, stain-resistant, a water-proofing agent like non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, firefighting foam, etc.

What Products Contain PFAS?

PFAS molecule contains a chain of linked carbon and fluorine atom which gives them strengthening properties making them non-degradable. PFAS is widely used in manufacturing industries because of its waterproof, non-stick properties such as those mentioned below.

How Does It Metabolize in the Body?

Different types of PFAS commonly found are perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, perfluorooctanoic sulfonic acid or PFOS, perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) have found it to be harmful.

PFAS are water-soluble chemicals and have a strength of binding to protein molecules, and can enter blood serum, liver, and kidney. Longer carbon chains in PFAS have a higher toxicity rate comparatively. Short-chain PFAS bioaccumulates less and is present on surface water. It takes several days for short-chain PFAS to excrete, while longer chains take several years to excrete. PFAS can transmit through the placenta and breastmilk.

How Is PFAS Transmitted to Living Beings?

PFAS can be transmitted by inhaling, swallowing, getting into the skin, and drinking water contaminated with PFAS is the largest source of transmission.

Mentioned below are a few ways that PFAS may be transmitted.

What Are PFAS Toxicity Symptoms?

PFAS can transmit through air, food, and water gradually accumulating and remaining in the body, the process of excretion is slow, it takes months and years sometimes. The accumulation of it can be toxic for the body. The toxicity of PFAS is still under research, but many studies have shown symptoms and signs as follows.

How Is PFAS Excreted From the Body?

PFAS is accumulated in plasma; it can enter enterohepatic circulation, and is poorly excreted through the kidney. Studies have found PFAS in blood, urine, and breastmilk. Excretion pathways of PFAS are mentioned as follows.

What Steps Can Be Taken if Elevated Levels of PFAS Are Found in Water?

PFAS are difficult to dispose of and destroy because of the strong chemical bond. Researchers are working on ways to manage water treatment and ways to incinerate PFAS from contaminated areas.

Why Is PFAS Toxic and Harmful?

As per the research exposure to PFAS has led to many harmful effects on living beings. PFAS can have an impact on the endocrine (hormonal) system affecting fertility, thyroid, and mammary gland.

How Can PFAS Cause Cancer?

PFAS compounds are synthetic chemicals that affect biological activity by changing DNA structure and weakening the immune system, they have been used for decades and have shown carcinogenic properties.

How Can You Avoid PFAS?

Studies have shown that a small amount of PFAS is transmitted into the body through some daily activities like bathing, washing dishes, cooking food, etc., so these activities are unavoidable. The government of health advisory should make some strict laws to treat the water bodies regularly.

What Are Regulators Doing About PFAS?

Researchers are studying the effects and toxicity of PFAS on animal and human life. Several programs are taking place to control, restrict and ban the use by various organizations like state and federal regulators focusing on PFAA and precursor compounds. Also focuses on the regulation of drinking water or groundwater that contains PFOA and PFOS.

Conclusion

PFAS has many useful properties but they are toxic chemicals and have many ill effects on the human body. The toxicity of living creatures and ways of removing PFAS from water bodies are still under research but the data found is sufficient that the use of PFAS must be stopped and necessary action should be taken on restricted usage with a warning sign of PFAS containing products.

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Last reviewed at:
13 Sep 2022  -  6 min read

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