Finally.... the EPA is proposing that 9 PFAS chemicals called "forever chemicals" be labelled as "hazardous to human health" or "hazardous constituents". This means that the chemicals are toxic or cause cancer, genetic mutations, or malformations of an embryo (developing baby). There actually are thousands of PFAS chemicals, but the FDA is only focusing on 9 of them.
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are called forever chemicals because they break down very slowly and they tend to accumulate, both in the environment and in humans. They are endocrine disruptors (disrupt hormones).
In humans and animals these harmful chemicals cause numerous health effects, including cancer, reproductive harm (e.g., poorer semen quality), birth defects, lowered sex and growth hormones in children, thyroid disease, immune effects, and liver and kidney damage.
Almost all of us have PFAS in our bodies (at varying levels). It's very hard to avoid them totally, but you should try to minimize exposure. Unfortunately, these chemicals are in all sorts of consumer products that we are exposed to frequently or daily. For example: non-stick cookware, firefighting foam, synthetic turf, cosmetics, and materials that protect against grease, oil, and water (e.g., stain-resistant carpeting and fabrics, food packaging, and water-repellent clothing).
What can you do? If possible, avoid products that are water and stain proof or leak-proof, especially if children will be using the product. (For ex., can look for physical barriers instead of a chemical coating). Don't use nonstick cookware. PFAS don't have to be mentioned on labels, so it's buyer beware.
The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing that nine PFAS, also known as "forever chemicals," be categorized as hazardous to human health.
The EPA signed a proposal Wednesday that would deem the chemicals "hazardous constituents" under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
PFAS have been called "forever chemicals" because they break down very slowly and can accumulate in people, animals and the environment. Last summer, a study by the U.S. Geological Survey found that the man-made chemicals are present in nearly half the country's tap water supply.The survey tested for 32 types of PFAS, though there are more than 12,000, the USGS said, and they can pose a health threat even at very small amounts.
The proposed rule will be open for public comment once it is uploaded to the Federal Register, under docket number EPA-HQ-OLEM-2023-0278.