What are PFAS?
PFAS is an acronym which stands for Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Some of the more famous PFAS are Teflon and Gore-Tex, but PFAS encompasses thousands of chemicals which can be found in products as varied as food wrappers to dental floss to furniture polish. The overabundance of these chemicals has led to them contaminating water and soil across most of the United States. PFAS contaminated water has been found in many municipal water supplies. PFAS bioaccumulates in aquatic creatures living in contaminated water.
Why worry about PFAS?
PFAS degrade incredibly slowly, which has earned them the moniker “forever chemicals”. This, coupled with their ubiquity, has resulted in more than 95% of Americans having detectable levels of PFAS in their bloodstream.1 PFAS persist in the human body for a very long time, and certain chemicals have been found to increase the likelihood of numerous health problems including cancer, liver and kidney disease.2
How did JRWA become involved in this?
A part of our efforts to prevent pesticides, intended to control mosquito populations, from being sprayed over our waterways resulted in the discovery of PFAS in a pesticide that was being sprayed all across Massachusetts. We are not certain that pesticide, Anvil 10+10, is the only PFAS containing pesticide and will be continuing to support an investigation in to this matter as well as advocating for less damaging means of mosquito control.
What can I do about PFAS?
While it may be impossible for most people to completely avoid interacting with PFAS at this juncture, we must work to send a message that this level of contamination is not acceptable. Call your local and state representatives and ask them what they are doing to prevent the use of PFAS chemicals. Since PFAS is so persistent in the environment, the only sure way to limit exposure is to limit use. If you do not know how to contact your representatives, you can enter your address at https://myreps.datamade.us/ to find their contact info.
Additionally, we believe it is important to “vote with your wallet”. Stop supporting companies that utilize PFAS chemicals unnecessarily. Many fast food chains, to include some purporting to be healthy alternatives, use PFAS in their to-go packaging. Many have committed to removing these chemicals, but with varying amounts of urgency. If you find yourself regularly eating at a restaurant it is probably worth your time to determine if their packaging is free of PFAS. If it isn’t then politely suggest that they consider changing their packaging in the future. PFAS is often used in treating rain resistant clothing as well. Many brands have started moving away from the chemicals. Here (https://pfascentral.org/pfas-free-products/) is a non-comprehensive list of PFAS free companies, with links to the companies policies regarding their use of chemicals. That link also contains some other PFAS free alternatives for home goods and other consumer products. We do not necessarily endorse any of these companies, we are simply providing the link as a means to help you to reduce PFAS exposure.