Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid,or PFOS, is a poly/perfluoroalkyl substance similar to PFOA. The main ingredient in Scotchgard, this substance has been associated with increased risk of chronic kidney disease in the general US population. Like it’s sister-compound PFOA, PFOS is persistent and does not break down over time in the environment. Therefore, it continues to leach into the water supply.
Learn more about PFOS here.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a synthetic compound with multiple industrial applications, also known as C8. Having been manufactured since the 1940s, it is used in the manufacture of fluoropolymers—substances which provide non-stick surfaces on cookware and waterproof, breathable membranes for clothing.
PFOA has been phased out of production according to an agreement with the EPA. The compound does not break-down naturally, and it is still being introduced into the water supplies as old cookware is discarded.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that PFOA has been detected in the blood of nearly everyone in the US—as high as 98% of the general US population. According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), exposure to PFOA (and the related PFOS) over certain levels may result in adverse health effects, including but not limited to:
- developmental effects to fetuses or breastfed infants
- pregnancy-induced hypertension
- testicular cancer
- kidney cancer
- liver damage
- immune disorders
- thyroid disorders
- ulcerative colitis
- high cholesterol
An independent panel of scientists concluded that there is a “probable link” between PFOA in drinking water and many of these conditions.
When pharmaceutical drugs are not disposed of properly, they can end up in lakes, streams and rivers. Studies show that chemicals from these drugs can even be found in treated tap water. This has the EPA and other water quality experts concerned, especially because evidence of an impact on wildlife suggests that pharmaceutical contaminants could be harmful to humans. This includes ibuprofen, naproxen, estrone, and more.