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PFAS chemicals making headlines as new research and regulations are released

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a class of human-made chemicals commonly used to make products resistant to water, stains, and/or heat. They are used in almost all industries from flotation fluids in aerospace gyroscopes to cleaning burn injuries, and are also used in many consumer products such as floor polish, sportswear, non-stick cookware, and windshield wiper fluid[i]. Nicknamed “forever chemicals”, PFAS are highly persistent in the environment and can accumulate in the body, with some shown to be toxic to reproduction or causing cancer[ii].

Studies over the past few years have detected PFAS in Arctic Ocean marine life, in vegetables grown in areas with contaminated the soil or water, and in human blood serum[iii]. Exposure via food and water were previously believed to be the primary routes of exposure, but a study released in August from the University of Rhode Island and Green Science Policy Institute suggests that inhalation of PFAS chemicals may present a third major route of exposure[iv]. Connecticut officials are also planning to inspect PFAS levels at over 2400 sites after water samples from some neighbourhood wells tested above the state-recommended limit[v].

As more information about PFAS emerges, regulations and advisories to control exposure are rapidly changing:

Due to the widespread use of PFAS in the global supply chain, regulations controlling PFAS are expected to be implemented or revised throughout the world to help address the increasing public concern surrounding these chemicals. Manufacturers of products that use PFAS are advised to monitor the regulations in their areas of intended sale to determine if their products are affected.












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