‘Forever Chemicals’: Teflon, Scotchgard and the PFAS Contamination Crisis
In 1946, DuPont introduced Teflon to the world, changing millions of people’s lives – and polluting their bodies. Today, the family of compounds including Teflon, commonly called PFAS, is found not only in pots and pans but also in the blood of people around the world, including 99 percent of Americans. PFAS chemicals pollute water, do not break down, and remain in the environment and people for decades. Some scientists call them “forever chemicals."
Since 2001, when news erupted about the contamination of drinking water near a Teflon plant in West Virginia, EWG has been in the forefront of research and advocacy on PFAS chemicals. Links to much of our work follow. For a compelling overview of the contamination in West Virginia and its aftermath, see the acclaimed documentary film The Devil We Know, available on multiple streaming platforms.
A robust body of research reveals a chemical crisis of epic proportions. Nearly all Americans are affected by exposure to PFAS chemicals in drinking water, food and consumer products.
What are PFAS chemicals?
Per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS chemicals, are a family of thousands of chemicals used to make water-, grease- and stain-repellent coatings for a vast array of consumer goods and industrial applications. These chemicals are notoriously persistent in the environment and the human body, and some have been linked to serious health hazards.
What are the health effects of PFAS?
The two most notorious PFAS chemicals – PFOA, formerly used by DuPont to make Teflon, and PFOS, an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard – were phased out under pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency after scientific evidence of serious health problems came to light. The manufacture, use and importation of both PFOA and PFOS are now effectively banned in the U.S., but evidence suggests the next-generation PFAS chemicals that have replaced them may be just as toxic. PFAS chemicals pollute water, do not break down and remain in the environment and in people for decades.
Studies have linked PFAS chemicals to:
- Testicular, kidney, liver and pancreatic cancer.
- Weakened childhood immunity.
- Low birth weight.
- Endocrine disruption.
- Increased cholesterol.
- Weight gain in children and dieting adults.
DuPont, whose toxic fluorinated chemicals have contaminated communities nationwide, is buying a company that specializes in removing those same chemicals from tap water.Read More
Environmental Working Group today published a map of 305 military installations that used the firefighting foams made with the toxic fluorinated chemicals called PFAS, which have likely contaminated drinking water or ground water on or around the basesRead More
The defense bill finalized by Congress last night excludes key provisions designed to reduce ongoing releases of the toxic fluorinated chemicals called PFAS, remove PFAS from tap water and clean up legacy PFAS contamination.Read More
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Last week, the Navy asked a federal court to delay a lawsuit seeking to require the military to pay for medical monitoring of people who live near naval installations to determine whether they have developed health problems from exposure to fluorinated chemicals, commonly called PFAS.Read More
The number of military installations and adjacent communities likely contaminated with toxic fluorinated chemicals, or PFAS, is higher than previously disclosed, a top Defense Department official admitted – but the Pentagon can’t say how badly it undercounted contaminated sites.Read More
EWG has submitted detailed technical comments to the National Toxicology Program regarding the draft report for PFOA carcinogenicity studies.Read More
Half of the tap water supplies tested by Kentucky environmental officials were contaminated with the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS, the state announced this week.Read More
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will consider a package of bills today addressing risks from the highly toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS.Read More
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/magazine/the-lawyer-who-became-dupont..., producer and environmental activist Mark Ruffalo joined Environmental Working Group, other public interest groups and advocates on Capitol Hill today in calling on Congress to protect Americans from toxic "forever chemicals" that contaminate drinking water, food, personal care products and more than 1,000 communities nationwide.Read More
A highly toxic Teflon chemical has been detected in the drinking water sources serving President Trump and other members of the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, N.J., according to a new analysis of water utility tests by the Environmental Working Group and first reported on by Politico.Read More
The toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS have been detected in almost 200 New Jersey drinking water systems and groundwater sources, according to the latest state and federal data compiled and mapped by EWG.Read More
October was Children’s Environmental Health Month in California, a designation made by state legislators to raise awareness about the importance of cleaner air and water, safer food and healthier products for kids. But lawmakers and state officials didn’t just observe the occasion: They also took important actions to protect children’s health from hazardous chemicals.Read More
Public water utilities in Kentucky have detected toxic perfluorinated chemicals, or PFAS, in the drinking water sources for roughly 800,000 residents, according to an analysis by Environmental Working Group of recent utility tests from all 50 states.Read More
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – as you may have noticed from the annual explosion of pink products claiming to fund breast cancer research.Read More
Just because your community’s tap water gets a passing grade from the government does not mean it’s safeRead More
A sample of residential tap water in Louisville, Ky, contained 10 different compounds in the family of toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS, according to laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working GroupRead More
Designating the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS as “hazardous substances” is critical to cleaning up legacy contamination of a chemical linked to cancer.Read More
One of the largest U.S. chemical companies, which for decades knowingly poisoned its own workers and drinking water supplies near its factories with the toxic fluorinated chemicals called PFAS, is fighting one state’s efforts to protect the public from these dangerous compounds.Read More