Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
What are PFAS?
PFAS are a group of chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s. PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid), are the two PFAS that have been the most extensively produced and therefore are the most studied of these chemicals. They are used in production of everyday items to make them non-stick, or water-, oil-, or stain-resistant. They are commonly found in food packaging, commercial household products, clothing and fabric textiles, cosmetics and personal care products, building and exterior use products, and firefighting foam.
PFAS are synthetic compounds that are difficult to break down in the environment and in the human body carbon-fluorine bonds. These carbon-fluorine bonds are very strong which does not allow them to easily break down under natural conditions. PFAS are often referred to as forever chemicals as they are not biodegradable and can find their way into water sources.
Why are PFAS an issue?
PFAS, such as PFOA and PFOS, are an issue due to their widespread use and long-lasting chemicals. PFAS has been measured in indoor air, outdoor air, dust, food, water, and various consumer products, however current scientific literature indicates that most exposure to the general public is through ingestion of food and water. PFAS are persistent in the environment and have been found in the blood of people and animals all over the world. Scientific studies have shown that exposure to PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals. PFAS are bio accumulative, meaning they build up in the body over time. However, since there are thousands of PFAS chemicals, and they are found in many different consumer, commercial and industrial products, it is very challenging to study and assess the potential human health and environmental risks. Researchers are continuing working to fully understand the effects on human health.
How to learn more?
The Village of Deerfield purchases treated water from Highland Park. Please visit Highland Park's website for additional information regarding treatment processes and PFAS.