PFAS Explained

What are they?

Known as “forever chemicals”, per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) or perfluorinated chemicals have been in use since the 1950s and are commonly found in products meant to repel water, grease, and stains. They are persistent in the body and the environment and do not break down.

Where are they found?

These chemicals can be found in products like non-stick cookware, stain-resistant clothing, rugs, and furniture, food packaging like microwave popcorn bags and fast food packaging, and fire-fighting foams. 

Why does it matter?

According to the EWG, “Their presence has been linked to a variety of health harms, including increased cholesterol, multiple cancers, and weight gain. They pose additional risks for children. PFAS has been linked to low birth weight, endocrine disruption—particularly harmful in kids who are still developing—and weakened childhood immunity. A recent review by EWG scientists showed multiple studies connecting PFAS to reduced effectiveness of tetanus and measles vaccines in children.” 

Additionally, because these chemicals do not break down, they spread into the environment and into our waterways, contaminating what we drink, eat, and breath.

What can you do?

Cook with cast-iron or stainless steel pots and pans, filter your water, avoid stain-resistant clothing and furniture, make popcorn on the stove and avoid fast food.

This story originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of KIWI Magazine. Read the full issue here, or check out the latest from KIWI Magazine.