By Kristen Hildreth
PFAS are found in a wide range of products you use daily—–from your cookware, to your rain jacket, to the pizza you ordered because you were running late and didn’t want to use your cookware.
And just exactly what are PFAS? They're a group of man-made chemicals that includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perflurooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), GenX and many others. They have been manufactured and used since the 1940s and can most often be found in firefighting foam, nonstick products and stain- and water-repellent fabrics.
While they are no longer manufactured in the U.S., they are still produced internationally and can still be imported into the U.S. via consumer goods such as carpeting, paper and packaging, coatings, rubber and plastics.
Given their wide range of uses, most people have been exposed to PFAS at some point in their lives. They’re persistent in both the environment and in the human body, and are bio-accumulative, meaning they don’t break down and can accumulate over time causing adverse health effects such as low infant birth weights, cancer and thyroid hormone disruptions among other things.
NCSL has put together a deep dive into a range of issues surrounding PFAS, including what actions federal and state governments are taking, a summary of lawsuits arising from contamination of waterways and much more.
Kristen Hildreth is a senior policy specialist with NCSL's National Resources and Infrastructure Committee.