PFAS exposure pathways

Treven Pyles

By Treven Pyles

Posted on July 28th, 2023

PFAS are synthetic compounds whose physical properties garnered their extensive use in a broad range of products and processes. However, PFAS' formidable molecular strength also distinguishes them as persistent toxic hazards due to their persistence and capacity to affect individuals across multiple exposure pathways.

Since the 1950s, PFAS have been used to manufacture a broad range of commercial products thanks to their unique physical attributes. In the early 2000s, legacy PFAS variants began being phased out by manufacturers due to increasing data regarding their toxicity. Over the years, clinical research found that chronic PFAS exposure can lead to several adverse health effects:

  • Increased cancer risks: testicular, kidney, prostate.
  • Reproductive toxicity: decreased fertility, high blood pressure in pregnant women.
  • Developmental effects in children: low birth weight, bone variations, accelerated puberty, behavioral changes.
  • Decreased immunity and vaccine response
  • Thyroid and hormonal disruptions
  • Higher cholesterol and/or risk of obesity

The prior prevalent use of PFAS during a time when their hazardous implications weren't sufficiently understood means that exposure can occur in many forms due to their omnipresence in the environment, households, workspaces, materials, and consumer products, including:

  • Drinking water
  • Food
  • Food packaging
  • Personal care products
  • Household products and dust
  • Wastewater biosolids
  • Firefighting foams
  • Chemical/manufacturing plants

According to the CDC, about 97% of Americans have detectable PFAS in their bloodstream, a consequence of the compounds' unnatural durability and their capacity to accumulate in bodily tissues. The current medical literature indicates that exposure can occur in several different ways:

  • Consuming PFAS-contaminated drinking water.
  • Consuming food items containing PFAS, including fish and seafood.
  • Breathing air or inhaling dust containing PFAS.
  • Working in chemical manufacturing/processing plants or occupations like firefighting.
  • Using PFAS-containing products or products packaged in PFAS-containing materials.

While federal and state authorities have made efforts to curtail and ban the use of PFAS in commercial and industrial applications and processes, the cost of PFAS testing, remediation, and technological improvements to public water facilities could be unfairly shouldered by taxpayers instead of the companies responsible for manufacturing these compounds in the first place.

However, a significant development occurred in the water contamination class-action lawsuit initiated by the National Rural Water Association (NRWA). In July 2023, several major PFAS manufacturers agreed to settle claims filed by public water providers for $1.185 billion (DuPont, Chemours, Corteva) and $12.5 billion (3M), respectively.

We can help you join the PFAS water contamination multidistrict litigation

Since 1990, the diligent attorneys at Environmental Litigation Group have leveraged their extensive experience on behalf of toxic exposure victims all over the US. We provide free case evaluations and can help eligible public water utilities join the PFAS water contamination lawsuit to recuperate financial compensation for PFAS contamination.

Participants in the litigation have the opportunity to obtain a portion of the historic 3M settlement totaling $12.5 billion to cover the steep costs of PFAS testing, cleanup, monitoring, and necessary technological and structural improvements. If you believe your community qualifies, we encourage you to reach out to us.