What do pizza boxes, non-stick pans, make-up, firefighting foam, water-repelling clothing, and fast-food packaging all have in common? A simple, four-letter word: PFAS. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been around for decades, appear in a vast variety of industries around the globe, and pose a substantial risk to human health and the environment. Worst of all, they rarely degrade. For this reason, they have been dubbed by the scientific community “forever chemicals.”
PFAS is an umbrella term for a group of thousands of man-made chemicals characterized by their ability to repel water, grease, dirt, and oil. PFAS are chains of one of the strongest chemical bonds in nature, which do not easily break down under natural conditions. This has far reaching implications that are not readily apparent. When the rest of a product that contains PFAS breaks down, you are left with tiny remnants of forever chemicals. But where do they go and what happens to them?