PFAS Chemicals | What are they and why are they harmful?
What does PFAS stand for?
PFAS chemicals (short for Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) are synthetic compounds used on many everyday items and products that are hazardous to humans. These chemicals are used for a variety of purposes, but most commonly for their grease, water, and/or stain-resistant properties. Items treated with PFAS chemicals can range from kitchen utensils and outdoor furniture to carpets, clothing, and even cookware. Though these chemicals are convenient and have helped bring about a new age of material functionality, their hazardous makeup raises concerns for many human health and environmental issues.
What is PFAS?
PFAS chemicals are composed of long-chain carbon-fluorine molecules that lack a complete and uniform structure, which is what gives PFAS compounds their characteristic non-stick properties. Many forms of PFAS chemicals are either biodegradable or provide necessary protection against environmental conditions. Despite this added convenience, PFAS chemicals have been linked to a number of pronounced ill effects. Studies have found that exposure to PFAS can cause hormonal imbalances, reduced immunity, and reproductive issues. Some forms of PFAS have also been linked to certain types of cancer.
As more and more research reveals the negative impacts of PFAS chemicals, regulations are becoming more strict. Many common household products are no longer made with PFAS chemicals, but rather with more eco-friendly and safe ingredients that provide the same level of protection and convenience. With the continued spread of awareness and education about the effects of PFAS, consumers have more options than ever when it comes to finding safer substitutions for PFAS-treated products.
When shopping for everyday items, reading labels is key for averting potential health risks. Consumers should also look for certifications like Greenguard Gold, which means that the item has been tested to meet stringent chemical emission standards. Additionally, when buying cookware or furniture, look for pieces clearly labeled as PFAS-free. Nonetheless, the best way to tackle PFAS chemicals is by investing in safe alternatives and opting to support companies that use safe components over hazardous PFAS compounds.
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