Research out of the University of Rhode Island and Green Science Policy Institute has discovered not only are toxic PFAS compounds contaminating our food and water, but also the air inside homes, classrooms and stores at alarming levels. The source of these airborne “forever chemicals” (so named because they don’t break down in nature and continue to build up over time in the human body) is believed to come from the breakdown of PFAS-treated products like carpeting, laminate flooring, furniture and clothing that then attach to dust or simply float freely in the indoor environment. The study’s authors posit that airborne exposure presents a third significant exposure route because of the amount of time most humans spend indoors (at a rate of upwards of 90 percent).
The study also contained several other alarming findings. First, it found particularly high levels of PFAS in several kindergarten classrooms. This finding buttresses a 2017 study found a correlation between high levels of PFAS in the air and in human blood serum, and modeling used in the new study found that kindergarteners were probably exposed to more PFAS by breathing them in than by ingesting the compounds.
The study also revealed troubling findings about the types of airborne PFAS detected. Among the most prevalent type of PFAS detected in the air was 6:2 FTOH, a compound used in floor waxes, stain guards and food packaging. Previous reporting by the Guardian revealed that two major PFAS producers had hidden data that suggested that 6:2 FTOH is highly toxic at low doses in lab animals and that it stays in animals’ systems for far longer than was previously known. 6:2 FTOH has been linked to kidney disease, cancer, neurological damage, developmental problems, mottled teeth, and autoimmune disorders. Another PFAS that was found in high levels during this research was 8:2 FTOH, a chemical that major PFAS manufacturers in the US claimed to have phased out of production because it is so dangerous. This study suggests otherwise.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS, are a class of about 9,000 different, man-made chemical compounds used to waterproof products or make them stain or heat resistant or just more durable. PFAS are used in dozens of different industries and can be found in thousands of consumer products including cookware, pizza boxes, cosmetics, and fast-food packaging. PFAS are linked to cancer, hormone disruption, birth defects, liver disease, thyroid disease, decreased immunity and a range of other serious health problems.
By now there can be no serious debate that we humans are swimming in a sea of harmful, carcinogenic chemicals. They are inescapably everywhere – in our food, our water and now our air – and persist forever. If you believe you have been harmed by exposure to “forever chemicals” you should contact an experienced law firm right away to explore your rights.