PFAS: Understanding 'Forever Chemicals' and Their Impact

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, have been a significant topic of discussion in recent years. Often referred to as 'forever chemicals,' these substances are remarkably resistant to breaking down, leading to long-term environmental persistence and potential health concerns. PFAS lawsuits are being filed daily by the best class action law firms nationwide.

What Are Forever Chemicals (PFAS)?

Forever chemicals are a group of man-made chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. There are nearly 5,000 types of forever chemicals (PFAS), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). They are used in a vast array of products due to their water-, grease-, and stain-resistant properties. You can find them in everyday items like non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics, carpets, some cosmetics, and even food packaging.

Forever Chemicals

Why Are PFAS Called 'Forever Chemicals'?

PFAS are labeled 'forever chemicals' due to their extreme stability. Their carbon-fluorine bonds are one of the strongest in nature, making them highly resistant to breakdown processes in the environment. This means once they're released, they stay in the environment for an exceptionally long time. Their resistance to degradation, along with their ability to bioaccumulate, leads to potential risks for both the environment and human health.

Health Implications of Forever Chemicals

Health Implications of PFAS (Forever Chemicals)
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), often referred to as "Forever Chemicals," are a group of man-made chemicals used in various industries for their resistance to heat, water, and oil. While PFAS have been beneficial in many applications, growing evidence suggests that prolonged exposure to these chemicals can lead to several serious health implications. At Class Action 101, we believe it’s crucial to understand these risks. Here’s a detailed list of the various health issues, particularly cancers, associated with PFAS exposure:

Cancers Linked to PFAS Exposure

Kidney Cancer

Studies have shown a potential link between PFAS exposure and an increased risk of kidney cancer, likely due to the accumulation and processing of these chemicals by the kidneys.

Testicular Cancer

There is evidence suggesting an association between PFAS exposure and testicular cancer, potentially due to the endocrine-disrupting properties of PFAS.

Pancreatic Cancer

Research indicates a possible connection between PFAS exposure and an elevated risk of pancreatic cancer.

Breast Cancer

Some studies suggest that PFAS exposure might be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, though more research is needed to confirm this association.

Prostate Cancer

There is emerging evidence that exposure to certain PFAS compounds may be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Bladder Cancer

While research is less conclusive, there are concerns about a potential link between PFAS exposure and bladder cancer.

Other Health Issues Associated with PFAS

  • Thyroid Disease: PFAS exposure has been linked to changes in thyroid function and an increased risk of thyroid disease.
  • Liver Damage: PFAS can accumulate in the liver, potentially leading to liver damage and changes in liver enzyme levels.
  • Immune System Impairment: Exposure to PFAS can weaken the immune system, reducing vaccine efficacy and increasing susceptibility to infections.
  • Reproductive and Developmental Issues: PFAS exposure is associated with reproductive issues such as decreased fertility, developmental delays in children, and potential risks during pregnancy, including high blood pressure and preeclampsia.
  • Cholesterol Level Changes: Some types of PFAS have been linked to increased cholesterol levels, a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Hormonal Disruption: PFAS can disrupt hormonal balance, potentially leading to various health issues, including thyroid disorders and metabolic changes.
  • Ulcerative Colitis: There is evidence suggesting a link between PFAS exposure and an increased risk of ulcerative colitis, particularly in young adults.

PFAS and the Environment

PFAS are not just a health concern; they pose serious environmental challenges as well. They're found in soil, water, and air, and their persistent nature makes cleanup incredibly difficult. They can travel long distances, contaminating areas far from their original source. Wildlife exposure can also lead to harmful effects on animal populations, impacting biodiversity and ecosystems.

Reducing PFAS Exposure

Given the ubiquity of PFAS, completely avoiding them can be challenging. However, there are steps you can take to minimize exposure. These include using PFAS-free products, avoiding microwave popcorn and fast food packaged in PFAS-containing materials, and checking if your water supply might be affected. Water filtration systems certified to remove PFAS can also be a good investment for areas with known contamination.

The Way Forward

Addressing the PFAS issue requires a multi-pronged approach. This involves stricter regulations on PFAS production and use, better disposal methods to prevent environmental release, and more research to understand and mitigate health and environmental impacts. Alternative materials need to be developed and promoted to reduce our reliance on PFAS.

How Can A Lawyer Help If You Have Been Exposed to PFAS

Exposure to PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), also known as "forever chemicals," can potentially lead to a range of health issues. If you believe you've been exposed to these chemicals and have suffered health effects as a result, a lawyer can be of considerable assistance in a number of ways:

Assessing the Case

An experienced PFAS personal injury lawyer can assess your situation and advise you on the potential of your AFFF lawsuit. This includes reviewing your medical records and the circumstances of your PFAS exposure to determine if there's a viable legal claim.

Gathering Evidence

A lawyer can help gather the necessary evidence to substantiate your claim. This might include medical documentation of your health issues, proof of exposure to PFAS, and evidence linking the exposure to your health problems.

Identifying Responsible Parties

PFAS are used in a variety of industries and products. A lawyer can help identify who might be responsible for your exposure, such as manufacturers of PFAS-containing products, companies that improperly disposed of PFAS, or landlords who didn't ensure safe living conditions.

Navigating Legal Processes

Legal proceedings can be complex and daunting. A lawyer can guide you through the process, help you understand your rights, file a lawsuit on your behalf, and represent you in court if necessary.

Negotiating Settlements

If the responsible party offers a settlement, your lawyer can negotiate on your behalf to ensure you receive a fair amount that covers medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other related costs.

Advocating for You

Above all, a lawyer is your advocate. They can fight for you, ensuring that your voice is heard and that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Class Action Lawsuits

In some cases, a number of people might be affected by PFAS exposure in the same area or under similar circumstances. A lawyer can help determine if a class action lawsuit is appropriate, potentially leading to larger settlements and more attention to the issue.

If you think you've been affected by PFAS exposure, it's important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Many jurisdictions have statutes of limitations for personal injury claims, so acting promptly is essential to preserving your legal rights.

Products Containing Forever Chemicals (PFAS)

PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), often referred to as 'forever chemicals,' are used in a wide range of consumer products due to their resistance to heat, water, and oil. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, here are some of the products where you might find PFAS:

Non-stick Cookware

Many non-stick pots, pans, and baking sheets use PFAS to provide their non-stick properties.

Waterproof and Stain-resistant Fabrics

PFAS are used in some outdoor gear, waterproof clothing, and stain-resistant fabrics for furniture and carpets.

Food Packaging

Some types of food packaging, such as microwave popcorn bags, fast food wrappers, and pizza boxes, contain PFAS to resist grease and oil.

Firefighting Foam

Exposure to AFFF firefighting foam, particularly those used to fight fuel fires can cause a myriad types of cancer.

Cleaning Products

Some cleaning products may contain PFAS.


Some cosmetics, including foundation, mascara, and other products advertised as "wear-resistant" or "long-lasting," may contain PFAS.

Paints and Varnishes:

Some types of industrial-grade paints and varnishes use PFAS to provide durability and resistance to environmental conditions.

Federal Actions on PFAS

EPA's PFAS Action Plan

In 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a PFAS Action Plan, outlining steps the agency would take to address PFAS and protect public health. This includes efforts to increase research, improve enforcement, and provide clear and immediate guidance about PFAS to the public.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020

The NDAA included several provisions to reduce the Department of Defense's use of forever chemicals, particularly in firefighting foams, and to increase monitoring and mitigation efforts.

Drinking Water Regulations

The EPA has set a non-enforceable health advisory level for two types of forever chemicals (PFOA and PFOS) in drinking water. The agency has also begun the process to set enforceable limits for these chemicals.

State Actions

Many states have taken actions to regulate forever chemicals, often going beyond federal regulations. Here are a few examples:


The state has established enforceable drinking water standards for seven PFAS compounds and requires all community water supplies to test for these compounds.

New Hampshire

The state has set some of the strictest drinking water standards for PFAS in the U.S., covering four PFAS compounds.

New York

In 2020, the state set maximum contaminant levels in drinking water for PFOA and PFOS.


The state has required community water systems to test for PFAS and report the results.

These are just a few examples of the actions taken at the federal and state level. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to resources like the EPA's website or your state's environmental or health department.

PFAS Statistics

Prevalence of PFAS

There are nearly 5,000 different types of PFAS, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

PFAS in the U.S. Population

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found PFAS in the blood of nearly all the people they have tested, indicating widespread exposure in the U.S. population.

PFAS in Drinking Water

According to a study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), PFAS contamination in U.S. drinking water is much more widespread than previously reported. As of 2020, the EWG identified 2,337 locations in 49 states with PFAS contamination.

PFAS and Health Risks

Studies indicate that exposure to PFAS at high levels can lead to increased cholesterol levels, changes in liver enzymes, decreased vaccine response in children, increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, small decreases in infant birth weights, and increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer.

PFAS in the Environment

PFAS are very persistent in the environment and in the human body, meaning they don't break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.

PFAS in Consumer Goods

PFAS are found in a wide range of consumer products that people use daily such as non-stick cookware, pizza boxes and popcorn bags, stains and water repellants, paints, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams.


PFAS, the 'forever chemicals,' pose significant challenges for public health and environmental sustainability. While efforts are underway to manage these substances, it is crucial for individuals to understand and take steps to minimize exposure. As consumers, our choices can drive change, pushing industries towards more sustainable, safer alternatives.

PFAS are a complex issue, but by working together, we can move towards a solution that protects both our health and the planet.

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