PFOA and PFOS belong to a family of “fluorinated organic chemicals”. They are dangerous to human health. Before virtually all production of these chemicals was halted in 2006 (due to health concerns), PFOA and PFOS were used in a number of industrial processes; to fight fires at airfields; and to make carpets, clothing, and fabrics for furniture.
Health officials warn that sustained exposure to even low levels of these chemicals may result in adverse health effects, most notably, testicular and kidney cancer; damage to liver tissue; negative effects to the immune system and thyroid; and developmental damage to fetuses during pregnancy and to breastfed infants, such as low birth weight, accelerated puberty and skeletal variations.
The EPA tells us that while the levels of PFOA and PFOS in the blood of people that have been tested have been decreasing in the 10+ years since production of these chemicals stopped, PFOA and PFOS still pose a threat to human health in specific locations where the chemicals were historically used and dumped, buried or spilled, and allowed to migrate into water systems. Such locations include:
· An industrial facility where PFOA and PFOS were produced
· A plant where they were used to manufacture products such as furniture fabric
· An airfield where they were used for firefighting.
If you live near one of these locations, and particularly if your family’s drinking water supply is area groundwater–which is vulnerable to contamination by PFOA and PFOS spilled years earlier– please contact local health or environmental officials, to determine their confidence in the safety of your water supply.
If you learn that your water supply is contaminated with these chemicals, or are uncomfortable with the answers you are getting from local health officials in response to your questions about the safety of your water supply, please contact an experienced environmental lawyer.