What Are PFAS, PFOA, and PFOS?

“PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s.” Manufacturers have used them in all kinds of products, including nonstick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, and firefighting foam. (1)

“The most commonly studied PFAS are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).” (2) PFOA and PFOS are still found in products manufactured today. These products may be made in the U.S. or get imported from other countries.

“During production and use, PFAS can migrate into the soil, water, and air. Most PFAS (including PFOA and PFOS) do not [break down], so they remain in the environment. (3)

“Because of their widespread use and their persistence in the environment, PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment.” Over time, if we are repeatedly exposed to PFAS, these toxic chemicals can accumulate inside our bodies. (4)

Where Are PFAS Found?

In your daily life, you are surrounded by many products containing PFAS. These include: (5)

  • Nonstick cookware.
  • Cleaning products.
  • Paints, varnishes, and sealants.
  • Water-resistant clothing.
  • Stain-resistant coatings used on upholstery and other fabrics.
  • Personal care products (shampoo, dental floss) and cosmetics (nail polish, eye makeup).
  • Grease-resistant paper, fast food containers and wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, and candy wrappers.

Consumers should also be aware that “babies born to mothers exposed to PFAS can be exposed during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.” (6)

Concerns about contaminated drinking water continue to crop up in local communities across the country. These problems are usually linked to a specific industrial facility in that region. (7)

PFAS Health Hazards

“A large number of studies have examined possible relationships between levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in blood and harmful health effects in people. However, not all of these studies involved the same groups of people, the same type of exposure, or the same PFAS.”

High PFAS levels may lead to these health and medical issues: (8)

  • Increased cholesterol levels.
  • Changes in liver enzymes.
  • Increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer.
  • Decreased vaccine response in children.
  • Small decreases in infant birth weights.
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women.

If you have experienced health complications due to PFAS, contact us today to understand your legal rights.

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How Are You Exposed?

People get exposed to PFAS when they drink contaminated water. You also risk exposure by using products containing these toxic chemicals. PFAS can also be found throughout our environment. This toxic substance does not break down. (9)

You can also be exposed to PFAS if you eat contaminated food. These contaminants can get in your food from the packaging they are in. Or because the crops used to produce the foods were contaminated by the PFAS found in the soil. (10)

PFAS in Contaminated Water

Water contamination from PFAS is widespread. PFAS pollution has been documented in hundreds of sites across the country, including industrial plants, military bases, airports, and fire training sites. It is also in the tap water of millions of people. (11)

In June of 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced updated health advisory levels for some PFAS chemicals. The interim lifetime health advisory level for PFOA is now 0.004 parts per trillion (ppt). For PFOS it is 0.02 ppt. The final health advisory for GenX chemicals is 10 ppt and for perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) is 2,000 ppt. (12)

“On March 14, 2023, EPA released a proposed national primary drinking water regulation (NPDWR) for PFOA and PFOS, as well as for four additional PFAS.” (13) The EPA set a national drinking water standard on April 10, 2024.

The agency set “Maximum Contaminant Levels at 4.0 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS, individually.” The EPA set limits of 10 parts per trillion for PFNA, PFHxS, and GenX Chemicals. “Because PFAS can often be found together in mixtures, and research shows these mixtures may have combined health impacts, EPA is also setting a limit for any mixture of two or more of the following PFAS: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and ‘GenX Chemicals.’” (14)

PFAS Getting into Food

“Livestock and game species may be exposed to PFAS via contaminated water, soil, substrate, air or food, and the contribution of these exposures to PFAS concentrations in food products is less well studied.” In fact, “the most significant source of human exposure to PFAS is dietary intake,” which includes both food and water. (15)

PFAS Is Not Listed in Ingredients

“Researchers found high fluorine levels — indicating the probable presence of PFAS — in most waterproof mascara, liquid lipsticks, and foundations tested.” What this means is if you wear makeup, you may be “absorbing and ingesting potentially toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.” (16)

Many of the products with PFAS were advertised as “wear-resistant” or “long-lasting.” Even more concerning, most PFAS were not disclosed on the ingredient labels. Not providing a full ingredient listing “makes it impossible for consumers to avoid PFAS-containing cosmetics by reading labels.” (17)

If you have been harmed by PFAS in water, food, or other products, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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If you, a loved one, or members of your community have been harmed by a PFAS, such as PFOA or PFOS, we encourage you to consult with one of our attorneys. You want a legal team experienced in the types of injuries and exposure you have suffered.

PFAS injuries are sometimes linked to environmental pollution such as water contamination. In other cases, they are linked to exposure to harmful consumer products.

In either case, a law firm experienced with water contamination, environmental pollution, and toxins can help you explore your options. Your attorney can also explain legal procedures and begin the process of seeking compensation on your behalf.

Sometimes, you may be brought in on a class action suit if many others are experiencing the same injuries due to the same source.

Reach out to us for a free consultation. You can use the form online or call us at (833) 977-3437.

How W&L Can Help

Weitz & Luxenberg has been representing clients harmed by the actions of others for almost 40 years. We have gone up against large national and international corporations, as well as local industries and businesses.

We can get you medical monitoring and compensation for your injuries. In cases of water contamination, our goal includes getting defendants to pay for cleaning up the water systems they have contaminated.

We also represent town governments, municipalities, water providers, and individuals. You may be living or working near a manufacturing plant, oil refinery, or other industrial business. We help you take action against corporations that have contaminated your community’s drinking water, soil, and groundwater.

If you’re looking for a national law firm with extensive experience, you need look no further. We have been helping both small and large communities across the country deal with the results of environmental toxins and contamination.

We have a solid record of winning. Here are a few examples:

  • W&L achieved a $65 million settlement on behalf of approximately 10,000 residents in Hoosick Falls, New York. Their drinking water supply was contaminated with the PFAS know as PFOA.
  • W&L reached a $23.5 million settlement on behalf of over 1,500 residents, businesses, and property owners in Petersburgh, New York. Their drinking water was poisoned, with a PFAS identified as PFOA.
  • W&L secured a $423 million settlement on behalf of 153 communities across the country. Their water systems were contaminated with the gasoline additive MTBE.