Although PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been used in products for decades, scientists are continuing to discover how they affect our health. The EPA has identified over 12,000 types of PFAS chemicals which have made identifying specific impacts difficult, but researchers are currently finding links between PFAS and several serious diseases and symptoms.
While more academic research is necessary to determine just how harmful PFAS can be, individuals need to stay up-to-date with possible exposure routes to best reduce their individual exposure.
What Is PFAS and Who Created It?
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a large group of man-made chemicals that have been used in many different industries since the 1940s. PFAS can be found in:
- Nonstick cookware
- Carpets and upholstery
- Food packaging
- Water-repellent clothing
- Firefighting foams
These chemicals are created by combining fluorine (a very stable element) with other carbon-based molecules. This creates a chain of atoms that doesn’t break down easily and can be incredibly resistant to heat, water, and oil.
While these unique properties are useful, they also make PFAS incredibly stable in our bodies and the environment. Studies have found that certain types of PFAS have half-lives of over 1,000 years. Furthermore, some PFAS have been found in the blood of nearly every person tested in the United States.
How PFAS Reached Groundwater
One common pathway for PFAS to enter the environment is via the manufacturing process waste and the use of firefighting foams.
These foams were created to extinguish petroleum fires, and their use has become common practice in firefighting training exercises. Firefighters would spray large amounts of these foams onto burning cars and planes, often in unlined pits where these chemicals can easily enter the groundwater supply.
For example, in one incident at an Air Force base in Colorado, firefighters sprayed 3,000 gallons of firefighting foam containing PFAS into a simulated aircraft fire. The foam contaminated the base’s drinking water wells, and PFAS were found in the groundwater at levels more than 4 million times what is considered safe due to the EPA’s new health advisory that came out in June 2022.
Dozens of other military bases have had similar problems with PFAS contamination after using firefighting foams. And it’s not just the military: airports, oil refineries, and chemical plants have all used these foams, and they’ve all had PFAS contamination problems.
In many cases, the only way to clean up PFAS-contaminated water is to pump it out of the ground and treat it with specialized filters and chemicals. But this is a very costly and difficult process. Many states are not yet required to test, so many people do not know that there is PFAS in their water.
Impact of PFOA and PFOS on Health
The most studied PFAS are PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid). Both of these chemicals have been linked to several serious health problems, including:
- Cancers (Bladder, Kidney, Liver, Pancreatic, Prostate, Testicular)
- Thyroid disease
- High cholesterol
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Elevated liver enzymes
- Immune system problems
- Decreased fertility
PFAS lawsuits are becoming more common as we learn about the dangers of these chemicals, and settlements have already awarded millions of dollars to help impacted individuals offset the life-changing effects of PFAS exposure.
How Can Napoli Shkolnik Help?
There’s a chance that your life has been impacted by dangerous PFAS chemicals. If you know that you live in an area with PFAS contamination and are experiencing health problems, you may be able to take legal action.
At Napoli Shkolnik, we’re dedicated to holding the companies that have polluted our environment and harmed our health accountable for their actions. We have a team of experienced lawyers and environmental industry professionals who are ready to fight for you and help you get the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to see if you are eligible to file a claim.