Known as the toxic “forever chemicals” living in tap water, the PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances) are man-made substances created by replacing hydrogen atoms (the natural bonding partner for carbon) with fluorine atoms. This gives PFAS water and oil repellent properties.
These properties are sought after in many industrial production processes but come at a cost: the fluorinated parts of emitted PFAS are not degradable. This means that once released into the environment, these PFAS cannot be broken down into carbon dioxide or methane by bacteria, enzymes, or sunlight, earning them the name of ‘forever chemicals’.
Many PFAS are toxic with harmful effects on humans and nature. In the case of humans these effects can take the form of cancer, a weakened immune system and high cholesterol, among others.
Their volatile nature allows PFAS to be difficult to regulate, especially when they become airborne. Find out more info here.