What are Forever Chemicals?

What are Forever Chemicals?

Forever chemicals are those that fall under the category of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.  When exposed to these chemicals, your health is at risk.  They have been found to increase the risk of cancer, damage to a fetus, and can even reduce how well vaccines work.  There are two common subtypes of forever chemicals: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).   

Where are Forever Chemicals Found?

Unfortunately, due to these chemicals’ unique structure, they are nearly impossible to get rid of.  The bond between the carbon and fluorine is extremely strong and this is what is responsible for them being so hard to break down.   

While most of these chemicals are not being used as often as they have been in the past, you can find them almost everywhere because they are so hard to break down.  It can take thousands of years for these chemicals to break down in the environment.  They are resistant to heat, water, and oil making them difficult to break down manually as well.  While restrictions are in place regarding the use of these chemicals they are still found in many products, as well as all over the environment:  

  • Firefighting foam 
  • Nonstick cookware 
  • Cosmetics 
  • Carpet 
  • Dental floss 
  • Window treatments 
  • Car seats 
  • Umbrellas 
  • Artificial turf 
  • Microwave popcorn bags 
  • Disposable trays 
  • Drinking water 
  • Soil 
  • Groundwater 

What is Being Done About Forever Chemicals?  

There have been moves recently to decrease the use of forever chemicals.  Regulations have been passed by governments to stop the use of these chemicals in manufacturing.  However, there have been no regulations set in place to limit the concentration of forever chemicals in drinking water.  This is a major concern and one that many people have been making known to the public and to local governments.   

Being unable to break these chemicals down has also proven difficult.  They are found everywhere due to their large use in the past and the distribution of them in the environment from when they were discarded.  While these regulations will help stop the production of these chemicals, it cannot help the fact that they are everywhere in our environment.   

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