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PFAS in the news

‘Forever chemicals’ coat the outer layers of biodegradable straws

By | PFAS in the news

John Bowden, an assistant professor at University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, wasn’t a fan of paper straws when they first gained popularity.

“They broke down in drinks really quickly,” Bowden told EHN. “They fell apart in your mouth.”

But then the biodegradable market—plant- and paper-based straws—expanded, giving people more structurally sound plastic straw replacement options. People could dip them in a drink without having to pull out a soggy clump of paper.

Bowden was skeptical. Oftentimes, companies will coat permeable products in per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are resistant to liquids. Read more…

Indoor dust contains PFAS and other toxic chemicals

By | PFAS in the news

Indoor dust contains dangerous, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, according to a study published today in Environmental Health Perspectives. The study of 46 dust samples from 21 buildings at a U.S. university found that all 46 samples contained hormonally active compounds that can lead to health effects, including infertility, diabetes, obesity, abnormal fetal growth, and cancers.

The study helps explain how industrial chemicals known as PFAS and flame retardants, which are found in the blood or urine of over 90 percent of Americans and are already known to cause widespread health and reproductive effects, enter the body. PFAS, which first came to light as ingredients in Teflon, are also used to coat carpets, furniture, and clothing. Despite a lack of evidence that they prevent fires, flame retardants are added to furniture, carpet, electronics, and building insulation. While we don’t eat these products, this study makes it clear that we breathe in tiny bits of them that have entered the air as dust. Read more…

Groundbreaking studies on ‘forever chemicals’ ramping up

By | PFAS in the news, PFAS-REACH team news

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Andrea Amico remembers learning her family had been exposed to toxic chemicals.

“Feeling really upset that my family was exposed and not knowing what that could mean for their health,” Amico said.

Her husband and two older children drank the water contaminated with PFAS chemicals at Pease Tradeport, at work, and at daycare.

But nearly seven years later, she is no closer to finding out the long-term effects on her family’s health.

“I still don’t have any more answers,” Amico said. “I think I have a lot more worry as the science does continue to evolve around PFAS.” Read more…

Federal Lawmakers Push Bill to Tackle PFAS Contamination in Drinking Water

By | PFAS in the news

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill on Tuesday that would require the Environmental Protection Agency to start regulating PFAS chemicals in drinking water and declare them hazardous substances, steps that would allow for the cleanup of contaminated sites across the country.

The legislation follows a recent investigation by Consumer Reports and the Guardian US news organization into the nation’s drinking water, which found measurable levels of PFAS—short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—in the vast majority of 120 water tap water samples taken around the U.S. Read more..

How “forever chemicals” might impair the immune system

By | PFAS in the news

Stain-resistant carpets and nonstick pots were once the epitome of “better living through chemistry,” their space-age properties conferred by molecules known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). But in the early 2000s, researchers began to discover that PFAS were somehow reaching the farthest corners of the planet—from polar bears in Alaska (1) to pilot whales in the Faroe Islands of the North Atlantic (2). These molecules contain chains of carbon peppered with fluorine atoms, which together form one of the strongest known chemical bonds. That helps these chemicals excel at repelling grease and water but also makes them astonishingly resistant to degradation in the environment (3).

Amid a flurry of new studies, scientists are still figuring out what risks these ubiquitous “forever chemicals” pose to public health (see “PFAS Politics”). Epidemiologists and toxicologists point to myriad possible consequences, including thyroid disease, liver damage, and kidney and testicular cancers (4). Impacts on the immune system are a particular concern. Read more…

Silent Spring Institute Continues PFAS Testing On Cape Cod

By | PFAS in the news, PFAS-REACH team news

Silent Spring Institute presented to the Barnstable County Board of Regional Commissioners Wednesday, April 7, about the level of certain potentially toxic chemicals in the water on Cape Cod and its current testing for them.

Founded in 1994, Silent Spring Institute is a Massachusetts-based scientific research organization dedicated to uncovering the links between chemicals found in the everyday environment and women’s health, with a focus on breast cancer prevention.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are manufactured chemicals that are resistant to degradation and can be found in everyday items such as dental floss, microwavable popcorn bags, non-stick cookware, carpets and others. Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are part of the PFAS group. Read more…

Calif. bill would ban ‘forever chemicals’ in products for children

By | PFAS in the news

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – State legislation that would ban the toxic “forever chemicals”known as PFAS from a wide range of children’s products passed out of the California Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee on Wednesday.

Assembly Bill 652, authored by Assemblymembers Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), with co-authors Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), would assure parents that a wide variety of baby and kids products they purchase are free from PFAS, a group of chemicals that cause increased risk of cancer, harm to fetal development and reduced vaccine effectiveness. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment and they build up in our blood and organs. Read more…

Federal Agencies Plan to Investigate Links between PFAS Exposure and Viral Illness

By | PFAS in the news

Two federal health agencies are planning to investigate potential links between exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals and susceptibility to viral illnesses like Covid-19.

The study would build on federally funded investigations of PFAS exposure in nine communities near U.S. military bases where the chemicals were found in drinking water. Researchers hope to enroll 4,075 people from those previous investigations in the new assessment.

A collaboration between the National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the study will be based on health questionnaires sent to people who have already had blood samples drawn for the PFAS exposure assessments. Read more…

Alaska sues PFAS makers as lawmakers seek broader action from regulators

By | PFAS in the news

The state of Alaska is suing manufacturers of a pair of the toxic PFAS compounds that have contaminated groundwater across the state. The lawsuit filed Wednesday names chemical giants 3M, Dupont and others.

It comes the same day as a bill was filed compelling state regulators to take broader action on contaminated sites, many near small state-run airports in communities from like Gustavus and Yakutat which have a number of PFAS compounds in private wells.

The 38-page legal complaint filed on behalf of Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor notes that for decades, the companies knowingly produced the toxic chemicals, which do not break down in the environment and are highly soluble, allowing them to easily spread in groundwater. Read more…

US rainwater contains new and phased out PFAS

By | PFAS in the news

Rainwater collected in the Ohio-Indiana region contains both new and phased-out per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), according to research presented Monday at the American Chemical Society Spring 2021 meeting in the Division of Environmental Chemistry. College of Wooster chemist Jennifer A. Faust explained that these persistent pollutants are transported in the atmosphere and can be deposited far from the source via precipitation. Her group wanted to know how much variation there was in rainwater PFAS levels within a region. This information can lead researchers back to point sources of the chemicals. Read more…