What Is PFOA and Where Can It Be Found?
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a synthetic chemical which has been in use since 1947, mostly for the manufacturing of fluoropolymers coatings and products resistant to water, grease, heat, and sticking. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, PFOA is possibly carcinogenic to humans and the primary route of exposure is drinking contaminated water. While EPA has not assessed the carcinogenic potential of this chemical yet, it began requiring public water systems to monitor the levels of PFOA in 2012 and also published water health advisories in 2016. The agency suggests the level of PFOA in drinking water remains under 70 parts per trillion.
It is worthy of note that once PFOA is released in the environment, the chemical persists, as it is highly resistant and cannot naturally degrade. There are numerous chemical facilities manufacturing PFOA, as well as plenty of companies using it, throughout the U.S. However, as long as PFOA does not reach the inside of your body, it is a relatively safe chemical. Some of the most common products which contain PFOA are:
- water-repellent clothes
- ski wax
- paper and cardboard packaging
- stain-resistant carpets
- household cleaners
- furniture treatments
- sprays for leather and shoes
What Health Issues Can Drinking Water Contaminated with PFOA Cause?
Although more research is necessary to establish how dangerous PFOA really is, medical studies have already found reliable evidence of toxicity and carcinogenicity. Nevertheless, exposure to PFOA is a serious cause for concern. According to the studies we have access to at the moment, drinking water contaminated with this chemical, particularly over a long time, can lead to the following health issues:
- liver damage
- kidney cancer
- ulcerative colitis
- testicular cancer
- immunity system problems
- developmental disorders
- thyroid disease
- changes in cholesterol levels
- peripheral artery disease