What is Forever Chemical & Where they are used at?
Do you know fast-food wrappers, pizza boxes, nail polish, and water-repellent clothing share a common link?
They all contain a group of persistent, human-made chemicals that have infiltrated our surroundings, even reaching our municipal water supply, posing a grave threat to public health.
These chemicals, known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), have earned the monikers “ubiquitous chemicals” or “eternal chemicals” due to their extensive use since the 1950s. Due to their non-degradable nature, they accumulate in our environment and accumulate within our bodies over time.
The widespread prevalence of PFAS often goes unnoticed by most Americans, along with the potential harm these unyielding substances can inflict.
Origins of PFAS Contamination
Approximately 9,000 PFAS chemicals currently exist, with Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) being some of the most prevalent ones. PFAS compounds can be discovered in the foams utilized by firefighters. It is also in less obvious products such as household cleaning supplies, stain-resistant furniture, carpets, waterproof apparel and footwear, and non-stick coatings on our cooking utensils (like Teflon).
Shockingly, PFAS have also been detected in everyday items like fast-food wrappers, pizza boxes, microwavable popcorn bags, and personal care products. THese include nail polish, cosmetics, and lipsticks, occasionally even those marketed as “green.”
For individuals residing near manufacturing and processing facilities, the predicament is exacerbated, as these plants are responsible for discharging substantial quantities of PFAS, contaminating not only our water sources but also the air.
Just how widespread is this issue?
PFAS contamination in water resources is a growing concern due to its environmental persistence and human bioaccumulation. Western countries have issued health advisories, raising awareness of potential risks. However, PFAS awareness in Asia is in its infancy, as evidenced by limited safeguards. Review of PFAS studies in Asian freshwater resources, focused on data from 2000 to 2020, found the highest contamination in surface water, exceeding recommended levels in countries like China, Japan, and South Korea, mirroring the situation in the United States. source
The rainwater pollution reportedly happening throughout the world should serve as a wake-up call for Malaysia in its readiness to tackle yet another environmental problem of global proportions, an expert says. According to studies done by Stockholm University and ETH Zurich University, rainwater in much of the world contains what is known as “forever chemicals”. source
While recent study in Indonesia – PFAS levels in most products tested exceed the proposed EU safety limitsfor PFAS in products . The 37 Indonesian samples from the study include samples of synthetic clothing, paper food wrapping, thermal paper and rubber crumbs. Samples were purchased from 2019-2022 in markets and from online retailers from four provinces: DKI Jakarta, West Java (Bekasi, Bandung), East Java (Surabaya, Malang), and Banten (Tangerang). (source)
The presence of PFAS in groundwater can create significant health issues for people who rely on groundwater for drinking purposes. Studies have indicated these chemicals can migrate both vertically and horizontally in the aquifer, and sediment samples collected from three different locations downstream from firefighting and training facilities were found to contain PFOS concentrations between 35 ng/g and 88 ng/g respectively (Kärrman et al., 2011).
In addition, landfills throughout the nation, along with sewage and waste treatment facilities, are contributing to this predicament, endangering both our health and that of future generations.
Adverse Consequences of PFAS Exposure
It’s essential to bear in mind that these persistent PFAS chemicals do not readily break down. While sporadic contact with these substances may appear inconsequential, it’s the cumulative impact of repeated exposure to PFAS that raises concern. In simpler terms, these chemicals amass in our bodies over time through continuous exposure.
Remarkably, nearly all individuals in the United States carry PFAS in their bloodstream, including the umbilical cord blood of newborns and the breast milk intended for them. Regrettably, the most vulnerable members of our population are commencing their lives at a distinct disadvantage.
Most people are exposed to a mixture of PFAS chemicals. Not all PFAS chemicals stay in the body for the same amount of time or have the same toxicity. More research is needed to know what levels of PFAS cause health effects. (source)
Current research shows PFAS exposure may cause
Thyroid disease and dysfunction High cholesterol Breast cancer Reduced response to vaccines Liver damage Kidney cancer Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure Decreased infant and fetal growth Ulcerative colitis Testicular cancer
Read more here on Toxic secrets where 21 High School students diagnosed with cancer during their primary, middle or high school at Minnesota & found link to PFAS.
In summary, it is highly recommended to take measures to prevent the accumulation of PFAS in your own body and within your family.
Measures to Prevent Accumulation of PFAS
1. Ensuring the Safety of Your Drinking Water
The days when you could take for granted the safety of the water flowing from your tap or even the bottled water you purchase are long gone. Recently Australia moves to band three forever chemicals – “This means that the import, use and manufacture of over 500 chemicals that are harmful to the environment will be banned or severely restricted,” . The move means Australia will join 171 other countries which have already banned one of the most dangerous forever chemicals after it was added to the Stockholm Convention in 2009.
It remains uncertain when ASEAN countries like Malaysia or Indonesia will implement the legislation to prevent PFAS widespread to our everyday lives.
However, in my view, we can’t afford to wait for government regulations to catch up.
Effectively filtering these ubiquitous and persistent chemicals requires a specialized water filtration system. It’s crucial to exercise caution when it comes to off-the-shelf and portable water filters, as not all of them are equipped to remove these contaminants. Even the reverse osmosis system could effective remove 90% of this toxic.
Which leaves to the most effective system would be distillation or low evaporation system that is known to be the most effective to remove all contaminants
Water and air, the fundamental necessities for sustaining life on Earth, remain under constant threat. Pure Waterhave dedicated over 30+ years in distillation & low evaporation technology to deliver the purest & safest drinking water to households. As a drinking water quality expert, we focused on providing cost-effective, efficient water purification systems capable of eliminating a wide range of toxic contaminants found in your household water supply.
Reduce or limit the amount of fast food, microwave popcorn, and takeout. Reduce or limit your use of non-stick cookware. Stainless steel or cast iron are good PFAS-free alternatives.
Note: Cookware that says it is PFOA-free and PFOS-free does not mean PFAS free! PFOA and PFOS are two specific older PFAS chemicals. In cookware that says PFOA and PFOS free, they may have newer PFAS compounds that could still be harmful to health. Wash fruits, vegetables and hands well before eating.
3. Hygienic Practices
Wash hands before eating if you’ve touched foam or been in lakes, streams, and rivers. Avoid accidental swallowing of water in lakes, streams, and rivers for yourself and your pets.
Rinse or shower after being in lakes, streams, and rivers. Do the same for pets.
4. In your home
Choose furniture and carpets that are not labeled “stain-resistant,” and don’t apply stain resistant treatments to items. Check product labels for ingredients that include the words “fluoro” and “perfluoro” and don’t use them. Household dust can contain PFAS that was shed from items that have PFAS in them. Vacuum often to pick up dust. Replace or remove worn products with newer, PFAS-free items.