In construction, pfas stand for permanent fire-fighting coatings on concrete roof tiles and rain gutters, as well as firefighting foams. They’re also used as coatings on steel and other metal products, such as fire fighting vehicles, fire retardant clothing, and metal plating to protect against corrosion, rust and staining.
PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used for over half a century to make our homes, work places, and military bases safe and durable. But PFAS don’t break down easily in the environment and can last a long time in the body. They have been found in drinking water, soils, and sediments worldwide. And they have been linked to health effects in people, including some cancers and reproductive problems.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is one of the most common PFAS. It’s found in Teflon and other nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, electronics, paper and cardboard, some cosmetics, and firefighting foams. It’s even in some dental floss and food packaging.
Other PFAS include perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA) and perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS). They are shorter-chained than PFOA and PFOS, but they still pose risks to human health and the environment because they don’t break down as quickly. The toxicity of PFAS has led to widespread community concerns and litigation, and their use is being phased out. The EPA has established an action plan to limit their use by 2022.