A group of man-made chemicals known as PFAS refers to per-and polyfluorinated substances. We call these ‘forever chemicals’ because, well, they do just that – they stick around forever. They don’t degrade in the environment and accumulate in the body. We can now find PFAS just about anywhere. They’re used in many products because they resist things like heat, oil, grease, and water.
PFAS In Drinking Water
Seven states, including Michigan, are taking part in a groundbreaking study looking at the effects of ‘forever chemicals’ in our drinking water. PFAS are often found in water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics, nonstick cookware, and even some cosmetics. And, just as we saw in Parchment-Cooper Township, Michigan where PFAS compounds were found to be well over the safety limit – drinking water can become contaminated. For this particular township, evidence points to a now-closed paper mill that manufactured food wrapping materials as the culprit. It is believed they were dumping PFAS-containing wastes that contaminated the water supply.
What is concerning right now is that many communities across the US have high levels of PFAS. So, the goal of this multi-state study is to provide answers. Researchers plan to recruit roughly 6,000 adults and 2,000 children nationwide who have been exposed to PFAS through drinking water. Hopefully, the results of the study will help us better understand how PFAS affects our health. And, if warranted, pave the way for new safety standards when it comes to PFAS contamination in drinking water.
What Are The Potential Effects of PFAS on the Body?
Well, the purpose of the study is to better answer this question. What we know so far is that PFAS accumulate in organs and stick to proteins. In some studies, but not all, researchers found these chemicals to affect the human body. Here’s what the CDC has to say about potential risks. PFAS may:
- Affect the growth, learning, and behavior of both infants and children
- Affect the immune system
- Interfere with hormones
- Increase cholesterol levels
- Increase cancer risk
Please keep in mind this is preliminary evidence, which is why more research is being conducted – to better understand the direct effect PFAS have on our health.