‘Forever Chemicals’: Teflon, Scotchgard and the PFAS Contamination Crisis
In 1946, DuPont introduced Teflon to the world, changing millions of people’s lives – and polluting their bodies. Today, the family of compounds including Teflon, commonly called PFAS, is found not only in pots and pans but also in the blood of people around the world, including 99 percent of Americans. PFAS chemicals pollute water, do not break down, and remain in the environment and people for decades. Some scientists call them “forever chemicals."
Since 2001, when news erupted about the contamination of drinking water near a Teflon plant in West Virginia, EWG has been in the forefront of research and advocacy on PFAS chemicals. Links to much of our work follow. For a compelling overview of the contamination in West Virginia and its aftermath, see the acclaimed documentary film The Devil We Know, available on multiple streaming platforms.
A robust body of research reveals a chemical crisis of epic proportions. Nearly all Americans are affected by exposure to PFAS chemicals in drinking water, food and consumer products.
What are PFAS chemicals?
Per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS chemicals, are a family of thousands of chemicals used to make water-, grease- and stain-repellent coatings for a vast array of consumer goods and industrial applications. These chemicals are notoriously persistent in the environment and the human body, and some have been linked to serious health hazards.
What are the health effects of PFAS?
The two most notorious PFAS chemicals – PFOA, formerly used by DuPont to make Teflon, and PFOS, an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard – were phased out under pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency after scientific evidence of serious health problems came to light. The manufacture, use and importation of both PFOA and PFOS are now effectively banned in the U.S., but evidence suggests the next-generation PFAS chemicals that have replaced them may be just as toxic. PFAS chemicals pollute water, do not break down and remain in the environment and in people for decades.
Studies have linked PFAS chemicals to:
- Testicular, kidney, liver and pancreatic cancer.
- Weakened childhood immunity.
- Low birth weight.
- Endocrine disruption.
- Increased cholesterol.
- Weight gain in children and dieting adults.
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Half of the tap water supplies tested by Kentucky environmental officials were contaminated with the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS, the state announced this week.Read More
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will consider a package of bills today addressing risks from the highly toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS.Read More
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/magazine/the-lawyer-who-became-dupont..., producer and environmental activist Mark Ruffalo joined Environmental Working Group, other public interest groups and advocates on Capitol Hill today in calling on Congress to protect Americans from toxic "forever chemicals" that contaminate drinking water, food, personal care products and more than 1,000 communities nationwide.Read More
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Just because your community’s tap water gets a passing grade from the government does not mean it’s safeRead More
A sample of residential tap water in Louisville, Ky, contained 10 different compounds in the family of toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS, according to laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working GroupRead More
Designating the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS as “hazardous substances” is critical to cleaning up legacy contamination of a chemical linked to cancer.Read More
One of the largest U.S. chemical companies, which for decades knowingly poisoned its own workers and drinking water supplies near its factories with the toxic fluorinated chemicals called PFAS, is fighting one state’s efforts to protect the public from these dangerous compounds.Read More
Many of the nation’s highest levels of groundwater contamination with PFAS – highly toxic fluorinated chemicals linked to increased risk of cancer and other diseases – have been found at military sites, according to federal data obtained and analyzed by EWG.Read More
A new scientific review finds “unequivocal evidence” that firefighters using foams made with the fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS have “unacceptably” high levels of two toxic PFAS chemicals in their blood.Read More
An order issued today by a federal judge allows a class action case against 3M, DowDuPont, Chemours and six other companies to proceed when he denied every motion to dismiss the case brought by these chemical corporations responsible for producing toxic fluorinated chemicals called PFAS.Read More