PFAS are known for their high resistance to the natural breakdown process. These chemicals are present in drinking water and other water sources in different areas of the United States. There are scarce scientific studies and research into how the human body reacts to exposure to PFAS. However, more communities are picking out these chemicals as part of efforts to tackle and resolve pollution.

PFAS Explained

PFAS are artificial chemicals, and they have been around for a long time. Since the 1940s, manufacturers of consumer products have adopted these chemicals as essential raw materials. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) are the two most common PFAS studied in recent times.
Molecules of PFAS usually move into air, water, and soil during their production and use. They remain in the environment for as long as possible and are often found in the blood of humans and animals at various levels. PFAS has also been reported in minimal amounts in different food products.
the sewer pipes discharging wastewater

Exposure to PFAS

Here are various ways you can be exposed to PFAS:

  • If you live close to industrial regions that deal with PFAS, either as waste or raw materials, the chemicals may end up in your public water systems, drinking water wells, outdoor air, and the soil.
  • If you are exposed to dust particles and the air around buildings that contain consumer products like textiles and carpets have been treated with PFAS.
  • If you drink or use surface water or groundwater contaminated by runoff or seepage from areas with frequent use of firefighting foam.
  • If you eat fish caught in bodies of water polluted with PFAS.
  • If you use food-related items like foodstuff packaging sold in stores.

Effects of PFAS on Breastfeeding

While breastfeeding a newborn is often recommended, this action comes with a few risks. For example, the newborn is at risk of exposure to environmental pollutants, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), through breast milk.
a conical flask filled with dirty water
People in the United States and other developed countries have detectable amounts of PFAS in their bloodstream. The sources of these contaminations include the environment, where PFAS are present in pervasive proportions. PFAS have also been found in human breast milk and can be discharged during lactation.
There is a need for a comprehensive understanding of how PFAS contaminates the breast milk of lactating mothers. However, the level of exposure of a newborn to PFAS through breast milk depends on the PFAS level of the mother, the quantity of breast milk PFAS the mother produces, and how long the breastfeeding lasts.

Risks of PFAS

PFAS have been detected in various amounts in water, air, fish, and soil. According to research, exposure to specific PFAS present in the environment leads to adverse health effects in both animals and humans.
There are several PFAS compounds out there. We can find them in different consumer goods, industrial goods, and commercial items. Therefore, it is challenging to investigate and determine the probable effects of PFAS exposure on human health and the environment. Everyone exposed to large amounts of PFAS is at risk of experiencing major health effects, but the risk is greater in populations with increased susceptibility, including elders and children.
Once these harmful chemicals find their way into the bodies of humans and animals, they maintain their resistance and accumulate over time.
a sea bird standing in the water

Dealing with PFAS

As dangerous as these chemicals are, there are a few ways to ensure they do not affect your body system and overall health adversely. It is all about keeping them away from your household’s plumbing system.

Test Your Water

The first step is to assess your household water source. There are specific guidelines for water testing in some states, territories, and regions. While the European Union and the United States government are working on restrictions on the permissible amounts of PFAS in water, there is little or no evidence to support the extent of PFAS contamination in water sources and how they got there. Therefore, it is important to get your water tested to see if there is a problem.

Install a Household Water Filter

An effective way of ensuring that your drinking water does not contain harmful contaminants is to filter it directly from the source. That is why experts recommend using under-sink reverse osmosis filters right in your kitchen. These filtration systems ensure your water is filtered and the PFAS removed before consumption.

Invite the Local Water Authority or Health Department

If you are keen on assessing the quality of water in your area, you can bring in the authorities. Several organizations run active PFAS response teams that can help you resolve issues related to water quality and contamination in your home.

Summary

More than needing water to survive, we need contaminant-free to stay healthy. You cannot completely rely on the safety of your public drinking water. That is why experts advise that you install a reliable water purification system that gets rid of these harmful contaminants before they find their way into your glass. Ensure you check your home’s water supply for any potential impurities and install an effective filter to keep them out.