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PFAS in the news

‘What are they thinking?’: toxic ‘forever chemicals’ found in school uniforms

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Toxic PFAS chemicals are frequently used to make children’s clothing and textiles resist water and stains, but exposure to the compounds in clothes represents a serious health risk, a new peer-reviewed study finds.

The study, published in the Environmental and Science Technology journal, detected the chemicals in 65% of school uniforms, rain gear, snowsuits, snowshoes, mittens, bibs, hats and stroller covers tested, and at levels authors characterized as “high”. Read more…

The EPA’s proposed rule on ‘forever chemicals’ is a long-awaited step forward

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Virtually everyone has been exposed to ‘forever chemicals,’ human-made compounds that linger in environments — and bodies — for decades. Polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl compounds, also known as PFAS, have long been associated with a range of health issues, yet have been left largely unregulated. That makes the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent proposal to classify the two most common forms of PFAS as “hazardous” an important step forward.

PFAS are found in thousands of household items, from nonstick pans to fabrics to cosmetics. What makes them so useful is also what makes them uniquely risky: Because they contain extremely strong carbon-fluorine bonds that do not occur in nature, they are very durable — and very difficult to dispose of. PFAS chemicals have been discovered at unhealthful levels in millions of Americans’ drinking water, and have been linked to cancerinfertility and cardiovascular problems, among other conditions. Read more…

As concerns about PFAS rise, doctors scramble to learn about the toxic chemicals

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A major report from the National Academies recommended that individuals with significant exposure to toxic chemicals, known as PFAS, get a blood test and ongoing medical monitoring. The guidance covers a wide range of people, including those who live near commercial airports, military bases and farms where sewage sludge may have been used.

Yet, many doctors don’t know how to order a PFAS blood test — nor how to interpret the results when the test is done.

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“Clinicians in the state are really at a loss. And I’m sure people are asking left and right to have this test,” said Brita Lundberg, chair of the Environmental and Occupational Health Committee at the Massachusetts Medical Society. “We’ve had our own members approach us saying, ‘what should we be doing here?’”

Lundberg is drafting a resolution that, she said, would help her organization advocate on PFAS at the statehouse and with the American Medical Association.

As physicians begin to field more questions about PFAS chemicals — which are ubiquitous and associated with a host of health concerns — there are new efforts to get the medical community up to speed on the topic. But there’s also pushback, as some experts question whether blood testing is the best approach. Read more…

Forever chemicals no more? PFAS are destroyed with new technique

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A team of scientists has found a cheap, effective way to destroy so-called forever chemicals, a group of compounds that pose a global threat to human health.

The chemicals — known as PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — are found in a spectrum of products and contaminate water and soil around the world. Left on their own, they are remarkably durable, remaining dangerous for generations.

Scientists have been searching for ways to destroy them for years. In a study, published Thursday in the journal Science, a team of researchers rendered PFAS molecules harmless by mixing them with two inexpensive compounds at a low boil. In a matter of hours, the PFAS molecules fell apart. Read more…

Forever chemicals are seeping through the courts

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Chemical companies are in federal court this week for a key test of who will pay to clean up pervasive and persistent PFAS, a class of compounds known as ‘forever chemicals.’

3M Co. and other companies facing thousands of lawsuits from across the country seeking potentially billions of dollars in damages will be arguing they are partially immune from liability for pollution caused by firefighting foam, a major source of PFAS contamination, because the foam was contracted for by the federal government. Read more…

Scientists link ‘forever chemical’ exposure to development of liver cancer

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Scientists in a new study have identified a link between ‘forever chemical’ exposure and the development of the most common type of liver cancer. One specific type of forever chemical, called perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), may have a particularly strong connection to the manifestation of this deadly disease, according to the study.

PFOS is one of thousands of humanmade per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and is found widely throughout the environment. Notorious for their presence in jet fuel firefighting foam and industrial discharge, PFAS are a set of toxic chemicals found in a variety of household products, including nonstick pans, waterproof apparel and cosmetics. While prior research in animals have suggested that PFAS exposure increases the risk of liver cancer, Monday’s study — published in JHEP Reports — is the first to confirm a connection in human samples. Read more…

 

PFAS: The latest toxic concern for those near fracking

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For more than a decade, Bryan Latkanich has discussed his concerns about fracking chemicals contaminating the water and air near his home with anyone who would listen.

Latkanich is a resident of Washington County, Pennsylvania, one of the state’s most heavily fracked regions. In 2020, an Environmental Health News investigation found evidence that Latkanich and his son Ryan had been exposed to harmful chemicals like benzene, toluene and styrene.

Now, researchers have uncovered more harmful substances in Latkanich’s tap water —“forever chemicals.” Read more…

PFAS testing needed for people with elevated exposures, US science advisors say

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US government health agencies need to move quickly to launch broad testing of people exposed to types of toxic chemicals known as PFAS to help evaluate and treat people who may suffer PFAS-related health problems, according to a report issued today.

The report recommends that the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention advise clinicians to offer PFAS blood testing to their patients who are likely to have a history of elevated exposure to the toxins. Those test results should be reported to state public health authorities to improve PFAS exposure surveillance, according to the report, issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, or NASEM. Read more…