As an informed citizen concerned with your health and environment, you need to understand the risks associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS chemicals. These human-made compounds were once considered miraculous for their ability to resist heat, oil, stains, and water. However, ongoing research has revealed that PFAS chemicals pose serious health and environmental hazards. Due to their widespread use and persistence in the environment, PFAS contamination is now ubiquitous in the air, soil, and water. According to recent studies, over 98% of Americans have detectable levels of PFAS in their blood. While the science is complex, the implications are clear: PFAS chemicals have contaminated communities and now threaten public health. Talk with a PFAS class action lawyer. By understanding the dangers, you can advocate for stronger regulations and make choices to limit exposure. The time for action is now.
What Are PFAS Chemicals?
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s. PFAS chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body, meaning they do not break down easily and can accumulate over time.
PFAS chemicals have been used to make products more resistant to stains, grease, and water. They are found in common household and commercial products like nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing, stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, and food packaging. Due to their widespread use and persistence, PFAS contaminants have seeped into the soil, water, and air.
Studies have found that exposure to high levels of certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects. The most common PFAS associated with harmful health effects are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). According to the EPA, exposure to high levels of PFOA and PFOS over certain periods of time may lead to:
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Changes in liver enzymes
- Decreased fertility or increased high blood pressure in pregnant women
- Decreased immune response in children
- Increased risk of some cancers (e.g. kidney, testicular)
Due to these health concerns, many PFAS chemicals are being phased out. However, due to their persistent nature, PFAS can remain in the human body for years and in the environment for decades. Ongoing research continues to investigate the impacts of these chemicals on public health. Reducing exposure and controlling contamination are critical steps to mitigating risks associated with these "forever chemicals".
How PFAS Chemicals Get Into Our Water
PFAS chemicals are widespread contaminants that can enter our water supplies in several ways. They have been used in consumer and industrial products for decades, and many of these sources lead to water pollution.
Major routes of PFAS contamination include:
- Industrial waste and discharges: PFAS chemicals have been used in various industrial processes like metal plating, electronics manufacturing, and waterproofing. Wastewater from these industries may contain high levels of PFAS and end up in water sources when discharged.
- Landfill leachate: PFAS-containing waste in landfills can leach chemicals that then seep into groundwater, contaminating nearby wells and aquifers. Rain and flooding also mobilize these chemicals, washing them into surface waters.
- Firefighting foam: Aqueous film-forming foams containing PFAS were once commonly used to extinguish petroleum fires. These foams were often tested or discharged at airports and military bases where they contaminated surrounding soil and water.
- Biosolids and reclaimed water: Sewage sludge and treated wastewater used for irrigation or groundwater recharge may contain PFAS from residential and industrial sources. Using these materials can then spread contamination to crops, surface water, and groundwater.
- Atmospheric deposition: PFAS chemicals released into the air during manufacturing processes and from the use and disposal of consumer products have been detected in rain and snow. This atmospheric deposition is believed to be a source of PFAS in remote areas far from point sources of pollution.
In summary, the pervasive use and environmental persistence of PFAS chemicals have led to their widespread presence as water contaminants. Reducing further contamination will require restricting PFAS in products and industrial processes, properly containing existing pollution sources, and developing new water treatment technologies. By understanding how these "forever chemicals" enter water supplies, individuals and communities can better protect public health.
Health Risks Associated With PFAS Exposure
PFAS chemicals have been linked to several severe health risks, especially when exposure occurs over a long period of time or at high concentrations. Some of the major health concerns associated with PFAS contamination include:
Immune System Issues
Exposure to PFAS may lead to decreased immune response, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses and allergic reactions. Studies have found lower antibody levels and reduced immune cell counts in both adults and children with high PFAS levels in their blood.
PFAS exposure is known to interfere with the body's endocrine system and the production of hormones like thyroid hormones, sex hormones, and insulin. This can lead to hypothyroidism, fertility issues, and obesity.
Research has consistently shown a link between increased PFAS levels and elevated cholesterol, especially low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
While more research is still needed, some studies have suggested possible connections between PFAS exposure and kidney cancer, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer. The chemicals may act as endocrine disruptors and carcinogens in the human body.
Exposure to PFAS during critical developmental periods like pregnancy and childhood may lead to long-lasting health impacts. Possible effects include low birth weight, liver damage, behavioral and learning problems, and delayed puberty. The developing immune, endocrine, and reproductive systems are particularly vulnerable.
In summary, PFAS chemicals pose severe health risks and dangers, especially with long-term exposure or high concentration levels in water or blood. Reducing exposure to these toxic chemicals is critical for public health. Individuals concerned about PFAS contamination in their local water supply or environment should take proper precautions and consider professional water testing and filtration options.
How to Test for PFAS in Drinking Water
To determine if PFAS chemicals are present in your drinking water, testing is required. There are a few options for PFAS water testing:
Home Drinking Water Test Kits
Home PFAS test kits can be purchased to test your tap water. These kits typically test for certain PFAS like PFOA and PFOS. While convenient, home kits may not be as accurate as professional lab testing. For the most comprehensive analysis, professional testing is recommended.
Local Water Utility Testing
Many municipal water suppliers now offer free or low-cost PFAS testing. Contact your local water utility to inquire about PFAS testing options and costs. They may test for a range of PFAS compounds in addition to PFOA and PFOS. However, some smaller utilities may not currently offer PFAS testing.
Professional Laboratory Testing
For the most accurate PFAS analysis, use an accredited professional lab. They can test for a wider range of PFAS using more sensitive methods. Local university environmental testing labs or private companies like Eurofins Eaton Analytical offer PFAS testing for private well owners and public water systems. They utilize high-resolution mass spectrometry to detect multiple PFAS down to part per trillion levels.
To prepare for professional PFAS testing, you will need to collect water samples from your tap following the lab’s instructions. Multiple samples from different taps may be required to obtain a representative assessment of PFAS in your whole plumbing system. Check with the lab on proper sampling methods, containers, and holding times to ensure valid test results.
Once PFAS test results are received, compare them to current health advisory levels to determine if any treatment may be needed. If PFAS levels exceed advisory limits, actions like installing a reverse osmosis system, whole-house filtration, or drilling a new well may help reduce your exposure. Regular retesting is also recommended to monitor PFAS levels over time.
Knowing if there are harmful PFAS chemicals in your drinking water is an important safety step. By following the appropriate testing methods, you can gain awareness about what contaminants may be present and take actions to protect yourself and your family. Staying up to date with the latest PFAS research and regulations will also help inform the best solutions for your situation.
Lawsuits Related to PFAS Contamination
Lawsuits related to PFAS contamination have become more common in recent years. As the health impacts and environmental damage caused by these chemicals have come to light, individuals and groups have sought legal action against companies and organizations responsible for PFAS pollution.
Class Action Lawsuits
Class action lawsuits allow a large group of people affected by PFAS contamination to join together and file a lawsuit against a defendant, such as a manufacturer of PFAS chemicals. In these cases, the plaintiffs argue that the defendant’s actions led to PFAS releases that caused harm. Several major class action suits related to PFAS have already been filed, targeting makers of firefighting foams and stain-resistant fabrics that used PFAS.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
Individuals who have experienced health issues from exposure to PFAS may file personal injury lawsuits. In these cases, the plaintiffs provide medical evidence that links their injuries or illnesses to PFAS exposure, such as kidney or testicular cancer, thyroid disease, or other issues. They argue that the defendant, such as a company that polluted the water supply, is liable for damages related to these health impacts.
Property Damage Lawsuits
Property owners may consider filing lawsuits to recover costs related to PFAS contamination on their land or in their water supply. These suits argue that PFAS releases have reduced property values or required expensive treatment systems to provide safe drinking water. Defendants in these cases can include PFAS users, makers, or polluters.
While PFAS litigation is still developing, these lawsuits aim to hold manufacturers, polluters, and other parties accountable for the impacts of PFAS chemicals. They also raise awareness about the dangers of PFAS and the need for more responsible policies and oversight regarding these toxic compounds. Successful lawsuits may even motivate broader actions to curb PFAS use and set safety standards to protect public health.
How to Avoid PFAS Exposure
To avoid exposure to PFAS chemicals as much as possible, there are several steps you can take:
Drink Bottled or Filtered Water
Many municipal water systems and private wells have been found to contain PFAS contaminants like PFOA and PFOS. To reduce your exposure through drinking water, use bottled water that has been tested for PFAS or install an in-home water filter certified to remove these chemicals. Pitchers, faucet filters, and under-sink filters that use granular activated carbon or reverse osmosis are effective options.
Avoid Microwavable and Grease-Resistant Products
Products like microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, and fast food wrappers often contain PFAS to make them grease-resistant. Opt for stovetop popcorn, recyclable containers, and less greasy fast food options when possible. Nonstick cookware and stain-resistant carpets, clothing, and furniture treatments also frequently contain PFAS—choose alternative products without these chemical coatings.
Be Cautious Around AFFF Firefighting Foam
Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) contains PFOS and PFOA and is used by the military, airports, and firefighters to extinguish fuel fires. Avoid contact with this foam if possible, as it can contaminate the water supply, soil, and air. Firefighters and first responders should use proper protective equipment when deploying AFFF to limit exposure.
Talk to Your Doctor About Blood Testing
PFAS chemicals accumulate in the human body over time through exposure in the environment and consumer products. A blood test can determine if you have elevated levels of some PFAS like PFOA and PFOS in your body. Discuss testing and available treatment options with your doctor, especially if you live near a known contamination site. They may be able to recommend dietary changes or therapies to help reduce your PFAS burden.
By making informed choices and being proactive, individuals can take steps to limit health risks associated with exposure to PFAS chemicals like PFOA and PFOS that have become so widespread in the environment. Reducing reliance on consumer products and water sources known to contain these toxic chemicals is key to avoiding continued accumulation and associated adverse health effects. Staying up-to-date with the latest research on PFAS substitutes and remediation techniques will also help you make the best decisions to protect your health and environment.
FAQs: Common Questions About PFAS Contamination
As with any contaminant, PFAS chemicals in water sources can raise many questions and concerns. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about PFAS contamination and exposure:
What are the health risks of PFAS exposure?
Exposure to PFAS chemicals may lead to adverse health effects. Studies have shown links between PFAS exposure and increased cholesterol levels, changes in liver enzymes, decreases in infant birth weights, and increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer. The more PFAS chemicals you are exposed to and the higher the concentration, the greater the health risk.
How are people exposed to PFAS?
The primary routes of exposure are through ingesting contaminated drinking water or food, using products that contain PFAS, or inhaling PFAS fumes. PFAS chemicals have been used in many consumer and industrial products like nonstick cookware, stain-resistant coatings for carpets and upholstery, food packaging, and firefighting foams. When these chemicals are released into the environment, they can contaminate surrounding soil, surface water, groundwater, and the air.
Can home water filters remove PFAS?
Some home water filters are able to reduce PFAS levels, including reverse osmosis systems, ion exchange resins, and activated carbon filters. However, not all filters are certified to remove PFAS, and they may not eliminate all types of PFAS chemicals. The best option is to use filters that are specifically tested and certified under NSF P473 protocol to remove PFOA, PFOS and other PFAS compounds.
What should I do if there are high levels of PFAS in my drinking water?
If your water has been found to have elevated PFAS levels, there are several steps you can take:
•Use an alternative water source like bottled water for drinking and cooking.
•Install a water filter certified to remove PFAS like PFOA and PFOS. Reverse osmosis and ion exchange filters can be effective options.
•Contact your water utility or municipality and ask them to provide an alternative water source or filtration system.
•Talk to your doctor about blood testing to determine your PFAS exposure levels. Blood tests can detect some of the more common PFAS chemicals.
•Discuss health risks and any medical monitoring recommendations with your doctor. They may want to check cholesterol, liver, and kidney function.
•Report the PFAS contamination to your state environmental agency. They may investigate the issue and require remediation of contamination sources.
•Consider legal counsel regarding compensation for health or financial impacts. Contamination of private wells may warrant legal action.
Contact Fletcher Law For Your PFAS Contamination Lawsuit
If you or a loved one has been exposed to PFAS chemicals that have contaminated your drinking water, you may be entitled to compensation. PFAS exposure can lead to serious health issues, and the companies responsible for this contamination should be held accountable.
Contact Fletcher Law for Your PFAS Contamination Lawsuit
The attorneys at Fletcher Law have been investigating PFAS contamination cases for years. We have the experience and resources to build a strong case against the companies that polluted the environment and harmed innocent people. Some of the ways we can help include:
- Conducting a free case review to determine if you have grounds for a PFAS lawsuit. We will evaluate your potential claim and advise you on the merits of your case.
- Investigating the sources of PFAS in your local water supply and identifying the parties responsible for contamination. This may include chemical companies, manufacturers, or other entities.
- Consulting with medical experts to determine if your health issues are related to PFAS exposure. Conditions like thyroid disease, kidney cancer, and other problems may be linked to these toxic chemicals.
- Filing a lawsuit on your behalf to recover damages related to medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of income or property value, and other losses.
- Negotiating with defendants to reach a fair settlement and compensation for you and your family. We will fight to get you the maximum amount you deserve.
PFAS chemicals pose severe dangers to human health and the environment. If you were exposed to these toxic pollutants, the law entitles you to take action. The team at Fletcher Law has a proven track record of success in PFAS lawsuits and other environmental cases. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation about your legal options. Together, we can work to hold polluters accountable and make contaminated communities whole again.