PFAS refers to a family of man-made chemical compounds that share the same core atoms of carbon and fluorine. The use of products containing PFAS compounds became common throughout the 1950’s and was used in a variety of consumer goods from non-stick kitchenware, waterproof clothing and even cosmetics.
PFAS are a global pollutant
PFAS compounds were also utilised in many industrial processes and products, including fire-fighting foams.
Two of the most persistent PFAS compounds are perfluorooctane sulfonate PFOS and perfluorooctanoic acid PFOA. You can view a timeline of PFAS chemicals history and growing concerns around them by on the link below.
Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
- In May 2018, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in the United States released documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that revealed that Trump administration officials had blocked the release of a draft government toxicology report on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS.These chemicals have been linked to cancers, developmental and reproductive toxicity, thyroid disease, immune system toxicity, and other health effects (ATSDR 2018). The documents revealed that the Trump administration was holding up the release of the scientific report about the hazards these chemicals posed because officials feared raising public health concerns the administration preferred to ignore. As one Trump administration official privately warned in an email, the report’s release threatened to lead to a “public relations nightmare”. You can read the full UCS report here.
Both PFOS and PFOA have been shown to be toxic and harmful to human health
PFOS is extremely persistent and does not break down. It travels through water and air contaminating ecosystems and people.
In May 2018, the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency said PFAS-related chemicals can cause health problems and even cancer, if people are exposed to it in soil or water. It sated addressing the risk PFAS posed to people and the environment was now a “national priority.”
In Australia, Department of Defence sites, commercial airports, industrial areas and firefighting training areas are among the most heavily contaminated. This is due to PFAS compounds contained in firefighting foams that were left on bare earth, washed down drains and into waterways.
PDAS compounds in the foam are now contaminating land and water supplies across Australia.
”As we've used those chemicals over the course of many decades there are concerns across the country about these chemicals because of the persistence, their durability getting into the environment and impacting communities in an adverse way.United States Environmental Protection AgencyAn estimated 110 million Americans water supply may be contaminated.
In preparing this summary and website CAP wishes to acknowledge the 2016 report The Persistence and Toxicity of Perfluorinated Compounds in Australia by Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith and Dr Rye Senjen. Their full report can be viewed on the link below.Go To Report