December 27, 2018

Fear and loathing of PFAS

Matthew Thurlow

Since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) release of new lifetime Health Advisory Levels for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA) in 2016, there has been an explosion of interest and new regulation of these and other chemicals, known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS compounds, known for their grease-resistant and water-resistant properties, have been used in a wide variety of commercial and consumer products (including Scotchgard, GORE-TEX, firefighting foam, and Teflon). EPA has long known about the potential toxicity of some PFAS—leading to the phasing out of PFOS in the United States in 2002 and PFOA in 2015—but there was relatively little regulatory or public interest in the chemicals until recently.

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