PFAS: the ‘forever chemical’ problem

The PFAS results from Consumer Reports tests are particularly troubling.

Manufacturers use PFAS to make stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, water-repellent clothing, nonstick cookware, and hundreds of other common products. The compounds can seep into water from factories, landfills, and other sources. And because they don’t easily break down in the environment, they’re often called “forever chemicals”.

Investigation into the health effects of PFAS exposure is ongoing, but some of the strongest evidence about their potential risks comes from research of about 69,000 people in and around Parkersburg, W Va.

It found a “probable link” between exposure to a type of PFAS and six health problems: high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and testicular and kidney cancers. Research has also linked some PFAS to learning delays in children.

At least 2,337 communities in 49 states have drinking water known to be contaminated with PFAS, according to a January analysis by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an advocacy organization.

CR’s tests results confirm the ubiquity of the chemicals: PFAS were found   in 117 of the 120 samples we tested, from locations across the country.

Despite mounting evidence of widespread contamination and health risks, the EPA has still not set an enforceable legal limit for PFAS in drinking water. Instead, it has established only voluntary limits, which apply to just two of the better-studied forever chemicals – PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, and PFOS, or perfluorooctanesulfonic acid – at 70 parts per trillion combined.

Harvard environmental health professor Philippe Grandjean has suggested that the limit should be just 1 ppt for PFOA and PFOS, citing his 2013 research– partly funded by the EPA – showing decreased vaccine response in children exposed to the chemicals.

CR’s scientists say the maximum allowed amount should be 5 ppt for a single PFAS chemical and 10 ppt for two or more. Among the 120 samples CR tested, more than a third had PFAS levels above 10 ppt, and more than a quarter exceeded 5 ppt for a single PFAS chemical.

For more information on the health effects of PFAS go to

HydroCare/Cermax under sink filter has been tested under NSF standards and proven to dramatically reduced the levels of these chemicals as well as over 200 other pollutants. Go to Emerging Contaminants towards bottom of the report