PSA: PFAS – Forever Chemicals

PFAS, forever chemicals

What are PFAS, Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances? What are the dangers of these “forever chemicals”.

A message from the Environment Chairperson of the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs

June, 2023 Bulletin: Public Service Announcement

I’m sure you appreciate, as I do, that we live in a time where there are waterproof or stain resistant fabrics,  non-stick cookware, laundry and dish detergents, food packaging, toilet paper, fire fighting foams, and my personal favorite…sunscreen.   But I’m saddened to say that these wonderful and innovative products are “trojan horses”, that is, they seem to be benign gifts of invention but are actually made of polyfluoroalkyl or better known as PFAS, the forever chemicals.  These are synthetic compounds that are highly persistent, accumulating in the environment and living organisms over time.  Their widespread use in a variety of consumer products has led to significant contamination in water, soil, and yes, the human body.   

Studies have linked exposure to PFAS to adverse health effects, including cancer, liver damage, immune system dysfunction developmental issues and weight gain… I knew there was a culprit beyond the cookies, chips and ice cream!   But seriously, due to their chemical structure, PFAS are highly resistant to degradation, leading to their accumulation in ecosystems and persisting in the environment for decades.  As a result they can travel up the food chain with the top predators facing the highest concentrations of these toxic substances.   That means US! 

So how do we protect ourselves from PFAS?   This requires a combination of personal actions and collective efforts.   Until there is a significant improvement in government oversight, here are a few ways to minimize exposure and potential harm:

  1. Filter your drinking water: use a water filtration system that specifically targets PFAS compounds
  2. Avoid clothing that contains PFAS or indicates water or stain resistance.  Opt for natural or organic alternatives in clothing, cookware, cosmetics and personal care products.  Some products are even labeled PFAS free.
  3. Properly dispose of old non-stick cookware or stain-resistant items, following local waste management guidelines.
  4. Stay informed about research and developments related to PFAS.  And support organizations and initiatives that raise awareness about the dangers of forever chemicals

By combining personal responsibility with broader systemic changes, we can protect ourselves and future generations from the dangers of PFAS.

Message shared by the Environment Chairman of the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs, Jacqueline Wisner.