Links to articles about PFAS

GenX - The new nonstick compound

The new nonstick compound GenX (a PFAS) used in Teflon seems to be dangerous, even in small quantities, according to a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US. Animal studies show that GenX has the potential to affect the kidneys, blood, immune system, liver and fetus following oral exposure. "Data suggests it is carcinogenic," the report says.

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The cost of inaction

A socioeconomic analysis of environmental and health impacts linked to exposure to PFAS.

PFAS are known to be extremely difficult to degrade in the environment and to be bioaccumulative and toxic.

Exposure to PFAS is suspected to increase the risk of adverse health effects, such as impacts on the thyroid gland, the liver, fat metabolism and the immune system.

Better awareness of the costs and problems associated with PFAS exposure will assist decision-makers and the general public to make more efficient and timely risk management decisions.

Findings indicate that the costs are substantial, with annual health-related costs estimated to 2.8 – 4.6 billion EUR for the Nordic countries and 52 – 84 billion EUR for all EEA countries.

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PFAS killed chicks

A chicken farm with 2400 birds experienced 4% mortality within 24 hours of chicken installation. Mortality started after 4 hours and within 72 hours cumulative mortality had reached 52%.

The cause of death was lung edema caused by toxic gas.

The severe mortality problem came after replacing the heat lamps. The new heat bulbs were PTFE-coated (a member of the PFAS family).

Birds have sensitive respiratory systems and cage birds used to be used in mines. If the bird died there were poisonous gases in the mine and one had to quickly evacuate.

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New study: PFAS and metabolism

A new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that PFAS was linked with greater weight gain, particularly among women.

PFAS have been used for more than 60 years in many consumer products including nonstick coatings of baking trays and pans.

The chemicals - perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) - have been linked with cancer, hormone disruption, immune dysfunction, high cholesterol, and obesity.

The study also found that higher blood levels of PFAS were linked with lower resting metabolic rate (RMR). Metabolism refers to the chemical processes in the body that convert energy from food, commonly known as "burning calories." People with a lower RMR, or slower metabolism, burn fewer calories during normal daily activities and may have to eat less to avoid becoming overweight.

"We typically think about PFAS in terms of rare health problems like cancer, but it appears they are also playing a role in obesity, a major health problem facing millions around the globe," said study co-author Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard Chan School.

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PFAS - The Forever Chemical

Listen (in swedish) to Science Radio's program on P1 on July 30, 2017.

- The problem is partly that PFAS are so dispersed and partly that they are not broken down. They are a kind of super-substance because the bond between carbon and fluorine atoms is among the strongest chemical bonds that exist. It is the strong bonds that are the very feature that makes the substances water and fat repellent. It is also what makes them so difficult or impossible for nature to break down. The more that is produced and spread, the more it ends up in us and in the environment. The researchers are now raising a warning finger. If you compare with other environmental pollutants such as PCB, Dioxins and DDT, they are stable, but eventually they are broken down, says Science Radio's producer.

- We work towards a non-toxic environment and do not want these substances out in the environment at all, says the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

- It is difficult and expensive to clean up. The most important measure is to prevent these substances from coming out, says Swedish Agricultural University.

- PFAS is a difficult pollutant. It is very important that many more participate in the work to prevent these substances from entering the circulation in society. They are found in many consumer products such as micropopcorn bags, nonstick pots and pans, cosmetics, outdoor clothing, etc. The trade must take much greater responsibility to phase out PFAS from consumer products. Consumers must be persistant and demand PFAS-free, says the Association of Swedish Water.


New study: PFAS is transferred from mother to fetus

Already in the mother's womb, fetuses get PFAS. The substances pass through the placenta throughout the pregnancy and accumulate in the fetal tissue. This shows a new study by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

The study was carried out in close collaboration with researchers from Copenhagen University and Rigshospitalet. The research was funded by the EU project ReproUnion, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Research Council Formas and the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation.

- Today, food is the main source of PFAS substances, in the form of fish, milk, meat and eggs, or drinking water if you happen to live in a polluted area. We get them as a cocktail of substances that can also interact with each other. It would be in line with the precautionary principle in the limitation of chemical substances to ensure that all PFAS substances disappear from our society, ”says Pauliina Damdimopoulou.

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Highly fluorinated substances in the environment

PFAS is a collective name for approximately 3000 industrially produced chemicals. They are used in a large number of products, are widely distributed in the environment, extremely persistent and some are toxic. In the industry, they are used in surface treatment of food packaging and in the manufacture of fluoropolymers, which are used, inter alia, in frying pans and baking trays.

  • Perfluorinated substances are a group of organic substances characterized by being completely fluorinated, ie. they contain a carbon chain where each hydrogen atom is replaced by a fluorine atom. The chemical bond between carbon and fluorine is one of the strongest available.
  • In fact, the perfluorinated substances are probably not degraded at all in the environment.
  • Polyfluorinated substances are very similar to the perfluorinated substances, but are not as stable and can be degraded. In the environment, they can be broken down and become perfluorinated. They are often used as a substitute for perfluorinated substances.

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Banning PFAS in food packaging

At least 8 states will during 2019 consider policy to eliminate or reduce PFASs in food packaging. PFASs are industrial chemicals used in nonstick coatings on food packaging like microwave popcorn bags and fast food wrappers. They have been shown to cause cancer and organ damage as well as interfere with normal development and limit the efficacy of vaccines. The chemicals don’t stay in the food packaging, but instead move into the food where we are exposed when we eat. Studies also show that when PFAS-coated food packaging is composted or landfilled, the chemicals get into the environment.

Source: SaferStates.org - A network of diverse environmental health coalitions and organizations in states around the country that share a bold and urgent vision. We believe families, communities, and the environment should be protected from the devastating impacts of our society’s heavy use of chemicals. We believe that new state and national chemical policies will contribute to the formation of a cleaner, greener economy.

Read more about the legislation (english)

Read more about PFAS (english)


The Madrid declaration on PFAS

  • Stop using PFAS where they are not essential or when safer alternatives exist.
  • We call on the international community to cooperate in limiting the production and use of PFAS.
  • As scientists and other professionals from a variety of disciplines, we are concerned about the production and release into the environment of an increasing number PFAS.
  • Increasing use of fluorinated alternatives will lead to increasing levels of stable perfluorinated degradation products in the environment, and possibly also in biota and humans.
  • PFAS are found in the indoor and outdoor environments, wildlife, and human tissue and bodily fluids all over the globe.
  • In animal studies, some long-chain PFAS have been found to cause liver toxicity, disruption of the immune system and tumors in multiple organ systems.
  • Although some of the long-chain PFAS are being phased out, the most common replacements are short-chain PFAS with similar structures.

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Teflon is considered to cause cancer

Producers must pay around €780,000,000 in damages to victims.

DuPont knew about the health risks posed by C8 (also called PFOA which is a PFAS) in Teflon as early as mid 60’s after performing lab tests on animals (monkeys, dogs, rats) and all of the tests showed bad, bad health effects. By 80’s they were already warning their employees that C8 could cause cancer, but they were not telling the general public. They showed a conscious disregard for the health and safety of people.

People are going to become ill as times goes on. This is a product that is in their blood and stays there for a very long time. There is a dramatically increased risk of thyroid disease, testicular cancer and kidney cancer.

There should be no C8 (PFOA) in the environment or in anybody’s blood.

[You can turn on subtitles in English on the video after starting it.]