PFAS: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances

What are PFAS?

The EPA defines PFAS as Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals.

In Michigan, there have been a large amount of PFAS sites reported and those care represented by this location map.

NOTE: Indiana has not REPORTED as much PFAS contamination, however there are occurences of PFAS sites, particularly around military installations in the state. Source

How are people exposed to PFAS?
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Stain/Grease/Repellent
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Firefighting Foam
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Industrial Use

There are a variety of ways that people can be exposed to these chemicals and at different levels of exposure. For example, people can be exposed to low levels of PFAS through food, which can become contaminated through:

  • Contaminated soil and water used to grow the food,

  • Food packaging containing PFAS, and

  • Equipment that used PFAS during food processing. 

People can also be exposed to PFAS chemicals if they are released during normal use, biodegradation, or disposal of consumer products that contain PFAS.  People may be exposed to PFAS used in commercially-treated products to make them stain- and water-repellent or nonstick. These goods include carpets, leather and apparel, textiles, paper and packaging materials, and non-stick cookware.

People who work at PFAS production facilities, or facilities that manufacture goods made with PFAS, may be exposed in certain occupational settings or through contaminated air.

Drinking water can be a source of exposure in communities where these chemicals have contaminated water supplies. Such contamination is typically localized and associated with a specific facility, for example,

  • an industrial facility where PFAS were produced or used to manufacture other products, or

  • an oil refinery, airfield or other location at which PFAS were used for firefighting. 

PFOA, PFOS, and GenX have been found in a number of drinking water systems due to localized contamination.  You can view more information about exposures to PFAS through drinking water on our Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFOA and PFOS page.

Interactive Map of Michigan PFAS Locations 

Are there health effects from PFAS?

There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans. If humans,  or animals, ingest PFAS (by eating or drinking food or water than contain PFAS), the PFAS are absorbed, and can accumulate in the body. PFAS stay in the human body for long periods of time. As a result, as people get exposed to PFAS from different sources over time, the level of PFAS in their bodies may increase to the point where they suffer from adverse health effects.

Studies indicate that PFOA and PFOS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Both chemicals have caused tumors in animal studies. The most consistent findings from human epidemiology studies are increased cholesterol levels among exposed populations, with more limited findings related to:

  • infant birth weights,

  • effects on the immune system,

  • cancer (for PFOA), and

  • thyroid hormone disruption (for PFOS).

The EPA, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality offer solutions to successfully remove the PFAS contaminants from your water. Equipment such as Activated Carbon Filters and High Pressure Membranes, can help relieve the worry of the “zombie drug” [source], PFAS from your home.

How do you treat PFAS?

Water Treatment Systems such as a Living Water Treatment System with Whole House Filters to filter and contain PFAS, along with a Living Water Reverse Osmosis System with Alkaline filtration, would treat your water to a undetectable quantity of PFAS contamination. Schedule a Free Water Test today to alleviate the stress of PFAS in your home.

Q: What are PFAS?

A: The EPA defines PFAS as :“Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals.” [source] These are industrial use chemicals that can be found in many common household products and general work environments.

Q: Where do PFAS come from?

Q: How is my family exposed to PFAS?

Q: What are the regulations for PFAS in my state?

Q: How do PFAS affect me?

Q: What can I do to treat the PFAS in my water, while keeping my family safe?

Q: How do you treat PFAS?