- Since their inception in the 1940s, the so-called forever chemicals have woven themselves into the fabric of our modern world.
- But recently, they’ve been appearing in alarming news headlines about their damaging effects on our health.
- PFAS have, in fact, come under intense scrutiny due to new research showing their persistent nature in the environment and potential health impacts.
What are forever chemicals?
- Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals, numbering approximately 4,700 variants.
- What makes them different is their formidable carbon-fluorine (C-F) bonds, renowned among scientists as the mightiest in chemistry.
- This stability makes them an important ingredient in many products.
- PFAS, in various forms, have played pivotal roles in creating oil- and grease-resistant food packaging, non-stick cookware, water-and stain-resistant textiles, and fire-fighting foams, to name a few.
- Their versatility has propelled them into our daily lives.
- The strength of their carbon-fluorine bonds is also what makes them resist breakdown by natural processes.
- Their longevity, often measured in centuries, has earned them the moniker of “legacy compounds”.
Side effects of forever chemicals:
- Their presence has been detected in worrying concentrations in drinking water, soil, air and even in Arctic ice.
- Recent scientific investigations have unveiled a concerning connection between PFAS exposure and damage to health, both in humans and animals.
- These effects include an increased risk of cancer, liver damage, compromised immune function, developmental disorders and hormonal disruption.
- The adverse health effects can be traced to their persistence within the human body.
- Unlike many substances that are metabolised and eliminated over time, PFAS accumulate in bodily tissues and fluids without breaking down.
- This accumulation creates a perpetual, self-sustaining cycle: PFAS contamination permeates rivers, soil and the food chain.
- These chemicals find their way into the bodies of humans and animals, where they continue to accumulate over time.