Per- and Poly- fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

What are they?

  • Synthetic chemicals that have been manufactured and used by a broad range of industries.; the largest manufacturers of PFAS are currently DuPont and 3M. 
  • Widely used since the 1940s, PFAS often persist in the environment.  Longer-lasting PFAS may take 1,000 years or more to degrade.
  • Found in many consumer, commercial, and industrial products from water-resistant and non-stick coatings to cleansers and shampoos. 
  • Have been found in the blood of people and animals worldwide.
  • Have been found in water, air, fish, food products, and soil worldwide.
  • Their variety and ubiquitousness make them challenging to study and assess potential exposure risks.
  • However, preliminary studies have indicated that exposure to some PFAS may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals.


What is being done?

  • The US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is working to better detect, measure, study, and reduce PFAS in our environment and wildlife.
  • Public and private sector organizations are also conducting PFAS-related research. 
    • The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), which is part of the National Institute of Health (NIH), is working with EPA on human exposure studies.  The NIH awards over $10 million/year in grants to universities and research centers studying PFAS. 
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is studying the human health effects of exposure to PFAS in drinking water. In 2019, CDC/ATSDR initiated two community efforts to study PFAS exposure and health effects.
    • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is conducting work to assess PFAS issues related to the general food supply, food packaging, and cosmetics. 

For more information on PFAS

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Centers for Disease Control ATSDR 

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

United States Department of Defense (DOD)