October 1, 2021

PFAS Can Have These Five Adverse Health Impacts

What are PFAS chemicals and how worried should we be?

There are some 4,700 chemicals, all man-made, that fall into the PFAS category. Invented in the 1930s, these chemicals were considered a major breakthrough in commercial packaging because the super-strong carbon-fluorine bonds at the heart of the chemicals do an incredible job of repelling water and oil. That means you can coat a microwave popcorn bag in a PFAS-based substance and not worry about the grease getting all over your appliances or your hands (until you start snacking, of course).

But with all that convenience comes a whole host of potential problems.

 

Here are five ways PFAS can adversely affect your health.

  1. Elevated cholesterol levels

Remember how PFAS repel fat? It turns out that seemingly positive characteristic isn’t so great when it starts disputing lipid regulation inside your body. The result is a correlated boost in cholesterol levels which can, in turn, increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

  1. Increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared PFOA, a PFAS chemical, a possible human carcinogen in 2017. That declaration was based on research showing the correlation between subjects heavily exposed to PFAS and cases of kidney and testicular cancer, but other researchers now suspect the chemicals could increase the risk of other forms of cancer as well.

The National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics is currently running a number of studies aimed at evaluating the cancer-PFAS link.

  1. Issues in pregnant women and newborns

Exposure to PFAS could lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure or even pre-eclampsia in pregnant women. Some studies have also seen small decreases in infant birth weights, a problem that can lead to a wide range of secondary challenges including feeding difficulties, neurological problems, GI problems, infections, trouble maintaining body temperature and gaining weight, and even SIDS.

  1. Hormone interference

PFAS are classified as endocrine-disrupting chemicals because they interfere with our body’s innate hormone production and regulation systems. When those systems are out of whack, you may see a negative impact on everything from fertility to thyroid function.

  1. Lowered immune system response and compromised vaccine efficacy

Parents spend a lot of time worrying about their children’s health, and for good reason. Kids’ immune systems are a work in progress, which is why childhood vaccines are so important. But it turns out that the PFAS we absorb from the environment could be compromising our efforts to stay safe.

There are studies linking exposure to PFAS chemicals to immune system suppression in young children. This could make vaccines less effective, increasing risk levels related to communicable diseases such as chickenpox, measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, rotavirus, and polio.

One of the most frustrating things about PFAS chemicals is that they take a long time to break down. Once they’re in our soil, water, air, and the animals we eat, their presence can be hard to mitigate. Luckily, Stonybrook Water “bottle-less” water coolers provide tons of delicious, safe drinking water so you can avoid quenching your thirst with problematic tap water.

To upgrade your water system at work or at home, contact our team today.

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