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Learn More About the Global Pollutants PFOA & PFOS

PFAS are not known to break down in the environment and have become global pollutants that threaten people and wildlife. Once in our bodies, they stick around - with half-lives in people of up to eight years.


  • PFAS is a large group of man-made chemicals that have been used since the 1950s.
  • The use of these chemicals has decreased in the United States in the last 10 years.
  • People can still be exposed to PFAS because they are still present in the environment.
  • PFAS chemicals do not break down easily in the environment.
  • PFAS builds up in the bodies of exposed humans and animals.
  • More than 4,700 PFAS exist
  • GenX replaced PFOA and is just as toxic


  • Non-stick cookware
  • Outdoor gear with "durable water repellent" coating
  • Food packagings, such as microwave popcorn bags and fast-food wrappers
  • Stain-resistant carpets, rugs, and furniture
  • Firefighting foams, ski wax, and industrial applications


WATER SYSTEMS: May have PFAS levels in your water systems, drinking water wells, soil, and outdoor air near industrial areas with frequent PFAS used.

SURFACE WATER: Surface water (lakes, ponds, rivers, etc.) and run-off from areas where aqueous (water-based) film-forming fire fighting foam (AFFF) was often used (like military or civilian airfields).

FISH & CROPS: Can build up in crops, fish, and livestock, contaminating the food we eat—for example, locally caught fish from contaminated bodies of water.

PACKAGING: Food packaging such as sandwich wrappers, takeout containers, fast food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, and candy wrappers.

AIR & DUST: Stain-proofing furniture and carpets release chemicals into air and dust over time.

PRODUCTS: In cleaners, personal care products, specialty products such as ski wax, grease-resistant paper, nonstick cookware such as Teflon coated pots and pans, stain-resistant coatings such as scotch guard used on carpets, water-resistant clothing, cleaning products, personal care products (shampoo, dental floss, cosmetics), paints, sealants, etc. 

WORKERS:  Workers may be exposed to PFAS by inhaling them, getting them on their skin, and swallowing them, but inhaling them is the most likely exposure route. 


CANCER:  PFAS induces tumors in laboratory animals. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has designated PFOS as a possible carcinogen based on epidemiological evidence linking kidney and testicular cancer exposure. 

IMMUNE SYSTEM: Studies show that the immune system is sensitive to PFAS. 

HORMONE DISRUPTION: Tests indicate that PFAS affects hormone production and response, affecting estrogen production and response, thyroid hormone signaling, and regulation of fat metabolism. People exposed to higher levels of PFAS have higher total and LDL cholesterol. 

REPRODUCTIVE: Laboratory tests associated PFAS exposure with decreased survival of young, disrupted reproductive cycles, and impaired growth of the uterus and ovaries.

DEVELOPMENTAL: Epidemiological studies have related higher maternal exposure to PFCs to lower birth weight. 

LIVER & KIDNEY: PFAS are associated with multiple effects on the liver and kidney, including liver lesions, kidney degeneration, and liver function damage. 

Nearly every U.S. resident has PFAS in his or her body. 


PERSONAL-CARE PRODUCTS:  PFCs can be found in dental floss and a variety of cosmetics, including nail polish, facial moisturizers, and eye make-up. Choose personal care products without "PTFE" or "FLUORO" ingredients. 

One simple way to identify these potentially harmful ingredients is to look at your product labels for the term “fluoro,” which may appear in a longer name, such as perfluoroalkyl dimethicone perfluorodecalin. CLICK HERE to see some of the surprising cosmetics that contain PFAS ingredients: PTFE (Teflon), Perfluorononyl Dimethicone, Perfluorodecalin, C9-15, Fluoroalcohol Phosphate, Octafluoropentyl Methacrylate, Perfluorohexane, Pentafluoropropane, Polyperfluoroethoxymethoxy Difluoroethyl Peg Phosphate, Polyperfluoroethoxymethoxy Peg-2 Phosphate, Methyl Perfluorobutyl Ether, Perfluorononylethyl Carboxydecyl Peg-10 Dimethicone, Perfluorodimethylcyclohexane, Perfluoroperhydrophenanthrene.

TEFLON: Avoid Teflon, non-stick cookware, PTFE-based nonstick pans, and kitchen utensils. Opt for cast iron instead.

STAIN-RESISTANCE: Be wary of all fabrics labeled stain or water repellent. Choose furniture and carpets that aren't marketed as "stain-resistant" and don't apply finishing treatments to these items. Choose alternatives to clothing treated for water resistance, such as outerwear, shoes, luggage, or camping equipment. 

WRAPPERS:  Cut back on fast food and greasy carryout food. These foods often come in PFAS treated wrappers. 

POPCORN BAGS and pop popcorn the old-fashioned way, on the stovetop. Microwaveable popcorn bags are often coated with PFAS chemicals on the inside. 

EATING FISH from bodies of water with high PFAS levels. 

INGESTION OF WATER if your water contains PFAS using an alternative or treated water source for drinking, food preparation, cooking, and brushing teeth.


More information for Perfluoroalkyls: Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry

Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls: Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry

June 20th toxicological profile drops the level of exposure to people into the single-digit parts-per-trillion (ppt) range. / / Facebook: Fight For Zero / Twitter: Fight For Zero

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