High concentrations of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances in the body can be harmful. They affect the liver, the immune system and unbalance your metabolism. The issue is being debated, but here’s how to protect yourself from these substances.
What does the acronym PFAS means?
PFAS and PFC are used to denote long chain alkyl or poly-fluorinated substances. These are chemicals that are involved in various industrial processes, including the manufacture of kitchenware. They have the particularity to provide resistance to heat and abrasion. The polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances were also detected in drinking water. There is s strong scientific campaigning for the cessation of the use of these substances because they present risks of toxicity.
How they affect the health?
Studies on animals have shown that long chain of alkyl or poly-fluorinated (PFAS) substances could disrupt endocrine and immune system function, cause liver poisoning and, in turn, cause metabolic imbalance. They show that these toxins are present in the food that was cooked in utensils that contain them. These migrate to the water and air and are suspected high concentrations in the human body, due to their very slow elimination once ingested.
Some analyzes have find traces in the urine, breast milk and blood. These reveal probability of benign tumor formations and adverse effects on reproduction and development.
An experiment conducted in order to determine the behavior of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances in drinking water and the human body has shown resistance to chemical, physical and biological treatment implemented for their elimination. Indeed, it reveals that these chemicals are not removed by most of the drinking water treatment processes including coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, biofiltration, oxidation and radiation.
Currently, due to their known effects on the environment and human health, recommendations are made to eliminate the use of long chain alkyl substances or poly-fluorinated substances in industrial processes. Many companies even report to move to less toxic alternatives.
These recommendations initiated by pioneering countries – such as Australia and the United States – regarding the health and environmental concerns about PFAS are gaining ground internationally. These include the following:
- Long chain alkyl substances or poly-fluorinated substances and other related chemicals should be restricted to certain essential uses, when safer alternatives are available.
- The industry is invited to actively seek healthier alternatives and phase out per or poly-fluorinated alkyl substances and other related chemicals.
- Existing stocks of these substances and related chemicals for the fight against fire must be responsibly disposed of to the expiration date.
- Long chain alkyl substances or poly-fluorinated substances and other related chemicals used in the fight against fire should be earmarked for this purpose.
- Importers must ensure that substitute chemicals are less toxic and non-persistent in the environment.
- An update of information on safe use and handling of per or poly-fluorinated alkyl substances and other related chemicals should be provided on safety data sheets.
- The European Union decided to limit the use of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances and related chemicals for specific purposes and prohibit the sale and processing of products intended for the general public, because of their toxicity.
Ultimately, you have to be very vigilant on the issue because it is now a very large public interest.