What are “Forever Chemicals” and How Might You Be Harmed by Them?

You have probably seen the terms “PFAS chemicals” or “forever chemicals” pop up in the news lately, whether in reference to potentially cancer-causing firefighter foam products, contaminated drinking water, or other possible sources of exposure across the country. You may not have many details about these chemicals, and if that’s the case, you’re probably not too concerned about potentially developing cancer or other serious side effects from PFAS exposure. It might surprise you then, to learn that toxic PFAS chemicals can be found in everyday products like waterproof jackets, food packaging, and nonstick cooking pans. They have also been detected in the drinking water supplies of dozens of U.S. cities. If you or someone you love has suffered a serious health problem like cancer, birth defects, infertility, or endocrine disruption, and you believe exposure to forever chemicals may be to blame, contact Consumer Safety Watch to find out if you may qualify for a PFAS injury claim.

What are PFAS?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS chemicals, are synthetic compounds used as ingredients in everyday products like nonstick cookware, water-resistant fabrics, cleaning products, certain personal care products, and stain-resistant coatings. Two of the most common PFAS chemicals – PFOA and PFOS – were once used to make best-selling products like Teflon cookware coating and Scotchgard fabric water repellent. Both PFOA and PFOS have also been used in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) solutions, also known as firefighting foam, used by the U.S. military and commercial airports to suppress petroleum fires. Harmful exposure to PFAS can occur via several different routes, including oral ingestion, absorption through the skin, or inhalation through exposure in the atmosphere. These chemicals have leached into the soil, water, and air, and while regulators have made efforts to phase them out, they can persist in the environment and drinking water, and in humans for decades.

How Can PFAS Chemicals Harm Humans?

PFAS chemicals are often referred to as “forever chemicals,” because once they are released into the environment, they don’t break down. They can also build up in the blood and organs of humans and remain there for long periods of time, which can increase the risk of cancer, birth defects, endocrine disruption, thyroid disease, and other serious health effects. People can be unknowingly exposed to PFAS chemicals in many different ways, for example, by using products that contain PFAS, eating food contaminated with PFAS, or drinking water polluted with PFAS. The adverse health effects associated with PFAS chemicals have been evident for quite some time, and we know that human exposure to the chemicals is widespread, as evidenced by a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which found that 97% of Americans have PFAS chemicals in their blood. Among the adverse health outcomes potentially associated with exposure to these endocrine-disrupting chemicals are:

  • Testicular cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Infertility
  • Birth defects
  • Reduced fetal growth
  • Altered immune function
  • Thyroid disease
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease

What to Do if You Have Been Harmed by PFAS

Exposure to harmful PFAS chemicals may have been reduced in recent years, as U.S. manufacturers largely phased out first-generation PFAS in the mid-2000s, amid growing concerns about their impact on human health and the environment. However, chemical manufacturers like The Chemours Company have produced new manmade chemicals belonging to the PFAS family, which early studies show may pose similar health risks. And there is still the presence and concentration of this potentially toxic class of industrial chemicals in U.S. drinking water sources to be concerned about, which one senior CDC official predicts will present “one of the most seminal public health challenges for the next decades.” According to a Department of Defense report issued in March 2020, there are more than 600 military sites and nearby communities across the U.S. that may be contaminated with PFAS, from two main sources: firefighter foam and industrial discharges. 

Contact Consumer Safety Watch to Discuss Your Next Steps

If you or a loved one has been exposed to PFAS chemicals in contaminated drinking water, soil, or air, from PFAS-containing food or food packaging, or other sources, and you have developed a qualifying disease like cancer, infertility, or thyroid disease, do not hesitate to discuss your legal options with a knowledgeable product liability attorney. U.S. regulators have yet to grasp the full scope of the impact of PFAS exposure on human health, and potentially harmful exposure continues to occur in the meantime. Contact Consumer Safety Watch today to find out whether you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. 

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