Perfluorochemicals (called PFCs) are a group of synthetic chemical compounds that have been used extensively in industrial processes to create surface coatings and protectant formulations. These chemicals have unique surfactant properties, meaning that they lower surface tension. These compounds include:
PFCs are used in products to treat surfaces in order to repel oil, grease, and water. They have been used as protectants on paper, cardboard, packaging, carpets, leather, textiles and nonstick coatings on cookware. PFCs, especially PFOS and PFOA, have been released to the air, water, and soil in and around fluorochemical facilities in large amounts. These releases have caused substantial concern because PFCs like PFOA persists indefinitely in the environment. This means that the chemicals are resistant to biodegradation. In fact, PFOA is so prolific that it is even found within the bodies of most people in the United States. The use of PFOA by major manufacturers has been reduced in recent years due to environmental and health concerns.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, long-chain PFCs are found world-wide in the environment, wildlife, and in humans. They are bioaccumulative in wildlife and humans, which means that they amass within the body over time. These chemicals are toxic to laboratory animals and wildlife, producing reproductive, developmental, and systemic effects in laboratory tests. Researchers suspect that continued exposure to these chemicals could result in adverse health effects, especially because of the long half-life of the substances.
The major way people are exposed to the most commonly used PFCs are through food and water ingestion. Young children can also be exposed by hand-to mouth transfer from treated carpets. People who work with PFCs, including manufacturing employees and people who treat and install carpets, may have a higher amount of exposure.
PFOA and PFOS are the most commonly used PFCs, which stay unchanged in the body for many years. They do not accumulate in fat like many other chemicals, but bind to serum proteins. Higher extravascular concentrations are usually found in the liver and are excreted mostly through urine. Studies of workers exposed to PFOA found changes in sex hormones and cholesterol associated with levels of PFOA in blood. There are some studies that suggest that pregnant women exposed to PFOA may relate to low birth weight. The United States Environmental Protection Agency is in the initial phases of examining the potential of PFOA to cause cancer.
If you are concerned about PFOA pollution in your community or the possibility of perfluorochemical (PFC) release affecting your water source, you should contact the Toxic Injury Lawyers. Our team has represented entire communities affected by PFOA discharges against some of the largest chemical companies. The Toxic Injury Lawyers believe that if you’re made ill by someone else’s actions, you deserve relief. Call and speak to a member of our courteous staff at 732-355-1311, or submit a confidential case inquiry here.
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