Understanding PFAS in the Environment

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a large group of manufactured chemical compounds that are used in many valuable consumer and industrial products. PFAS may be used to make non-stick cookware and food packaging, to make stain- and water-resistant fabrics and clothing, and in a variety of other applications including firefighting foams, aerospace, automotive, building and construction, and electronics. Two specific PFAS compounds, PFOA and PFOS, have been used for decades in well-known products such as Teflon and Scotchguard, and are the most studied chemicals in this class. The strong carbon-fluorine chemical bonds characteristic of PFAS make them resistant to degradation in the environment, and some PFAS are known to build up in the bodies of people and animals. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human and ecological health effects.  A growing number of published reports of PFAS exposures is leading to a growing level of interest and concern by states, tribes, and other localities, who are looking to EPA to support them by providing information for understanding and managing risk of PFAS to public health and the environment.

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