Consumers Can Help Reduce PFAS in the Environment
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS or “forever chemicals”, are a large group of man-made chemicals that do not break down in the environment. Exposure to excess levels of certain PFAS are known to have negative health effects such as impaired neurodevelopment, reduced immune system functioning, and increased risk of cancer.
PFAS are commonly used by industries and in consumer products. As a result, these substances are present in solid waste facilities and wastewater treatment plants. Due to the difficulty of treatment of these substances, the Industrial Waste Pollution Prevention section is working towards expanding source identification and reduction efforts and educating our permittees and the public on PFAS.
Every day consumers can also take action to reduce the amount of PFAS released into the environment. Common products that often contain these substances are:
• microwavable popcorn bags, fast-food packaging, pizza boxes, and candy wrappers
• nonstick cookware, varnishes, and sealants
• carpeting and clothing that is waterproof and water- or stain-resistant
• some shampoos, dental floss, and cosmetics
When buying products avoid those containing “PTFE” or other “fluoro” ingredients. Products that are “PFOA Free” are free of only one type of PFAS. Opting for products that are instead “PFAS Free” ensures it is free of all fluorinated chemicals. Additionally, avoiding carpet or upholstery that have known water- or stain-resistant treatment is best as these treatments often include PFAS. The Green Science Policy Institute has created a list of PFAS-Free products to help consumers reduce their overall exposure.
Additional PFAS information and resources from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can be found here.