Polyfluoroalkyl Substances: The EPA’s New Stance on PFAS

Polyfluoroalkyl substances — more commonly known as PFAS. There’s a good chance that they’re somewhere in your body, and you need to know how they’re getting there, why they’re dangerous, and what you can do about it. This blog will go over these matters and more.

What Are PFAS?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that PFAs are long-lasting chemicals that break down very slowly. They might not break down at all. This is why some people call them “forever chemicals.” There are thousands of different types of PFAS — which are manmade — found in all sorts of consumer, commercial, and industrial products. They’ve been used since the 1940s in the manufacture of items like nonstick cookware, cosmetics, fast food packaging, water-repellent clothing, and stain-resistant fabrics. In fact, many products that resist water, oil, and grease often contain polyfluoroalkyl substances. Have you ever spilled a drink on your couch and noticed how the liquid didn’t actually absorb into the material? That’s because of PFAS.



PFAS are in the water, air, and soil, which means they’re also in us. Many studies have found the presence of PFAS in both human and animal blood all over the world. They’re also in many of our food products.

Why Are Forever Chemicals So Dangerous?

Many studies have linked PFAS to different types of cancer (including kidney and liver cancer), high cholesterol, liver damage, thyroid disease, allergies, asthma, weight gain, and even a reduced vaccine response and immune system in children. They’ve also been connected to newborn deaths, low birth weight, birth defects, delayed development, and decreased fertility.

And this might only be the start of it.

PFAS Are Difficult to Break Down

Why is it so hard to get rid of PFAS? We need a quick science lesson to explain this.

A regular organic molecule has bonds of carbon and hydrogen atoms. However, to make PFAS molecules, you have to replace the hydrogen with fluorine. So, instead of having hydrogen-carbon bonds, PFAS have fluorine-carbon bonds — and these are very difficult to break down. It takes a ton of energy, which is why these bonds are very persistent.

And that’s why they’re found in almost all of our bodies and environments: They’re nearly impossible to destroy. Once they’ve been created, they never leave.

Who exactly is making these chemicals? There are three main companies: 3M, DuPont, and Chemours. They manufacture the PFAS and then sell them to companies that need them for their products — furniture, food packaging, textiles, and beyond.

The even scarier part? These companies knew decades ago that PFAS were dangerous.

The EPA is Stepping In

If polyfluoroalkyl substances are so bad for us, why isn’t anyone doing anything about it? Well, they are. 

For the first time ever, the EPA has imposed national limits for six kinds of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances in our drinking water. Moving forward, these substances cannot exceed four parts per trillion in public drinking water. There are three other PFAS — PFNA, PFHxS, and GenX chemicals — that are now restricted to 10 parts per trillion.

The EPA stresses that there is no safe amount of PFAS. Any exposure at all is bad. However, the limits are based on what laboratories can detect and what public water systems can effectively treat.

To give you a little context, consider an area outside Philadelphia that once had its water tested — water served to almost 9,000 people — and found that one of its wells had a PFOA level of 235 parts per trillion.

These new limits should prevent thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of severe illnesses.

While this is a step in the right direction, the problem certainly isn’t behind us. Public water systems have three years to start monitoring for PFAS. If they learn that these chemicals are past the EPA’s new limits, they have two more years to correct it. Plus, there are other PFAS to worry about.

This means that we all need to take action to avoid purchasing products that are made with PFAS, if possible. In addition, purifying the water we drink and the air we breathe can help protect our health.

Getting PFAS Under Control at Home

Step 1 is to eliminate PFAS-containing products as much as you can. Step 2 is to take steps to remove them from your environment. A high-quality water purifier can remove up to 99% of contaminants in your tap water, including forever chemicals, arsenic, fluoride, heavy metals, and microplastics. It accomplishes this through the process of reverse osmosis (RO), where pressure forces water through a fine filter that removes everything but water molecules.



Air pollution is another concern. As a matter of fact, the EPA recently raised the bar for air quality, too. The latest culprit stealing headlines? Particulate matter (PM). What can you do about the air quality at home?

An air purifier made with a medical-grade HEPA 13 filter, activated carbon filter, and UV-C light can further clean the air you breathe. Sans eliminates dust, allergens, pet fur/dander, odors, chemicals, and more, covering 1,560 square feet every hour without producing any ozone. Plus, it’s the quietest in class at just 30 dB. Air pollution can cause respiratory issues and sleep problems, it can trigger allergies and asthma, and so much more. We spend the vast majority of our time inside — shouldn’t the air you breathe be safe and healthy?

While the EPA is making progress when it comes to improving the quality of air and water, there is still much work to be done. Taking action at home is key. Air and water filtration can be a game-changer when it comes to protecting your health and the health of your loved ones.

Sans Water Purifier

Countertop Reverse Osmosis + UV purification

Shop Now