Read the full article by Enrique Saenz (Indiana Environmental Reporter)

“A group of scientists, including an Indiana University environmental chemist, said governments and industry should treat a family of thousands of persistent and potentially hazardous chemicals known as PFAS as a single chemical class.

In a new paper, the international group of scientists from universities, health agencies and environmental organizations said per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, are so similar that they should be treated as a single chemical class, instead of individually, a proposal that could increase the efficiency and effectiveness of efforts to reduce the chemicals’ harm to human health and the environment.

‘They’ve been called ‘forever chemicals’ because once they’re out there, it’s impossible to break them down,” said Marta Venier, associate scientist at Indiana University’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and a co-author of the paper. ‘So, the best approach that we suggest, and there’s scientific evidence for that, is to treat them as a group and regulate them as a group. This approach will allow us to eliminate them promptly from new products as opposed to taking a very long time.’

Manmade PFAS chemicals have been used since the 1940s to produce industrial products resistant to water, oil, grease and stains.

Some of the most famous name brands of the 20th century, like Teflon, Scotchgard and Gore-Tex are PFAS products. Thousands more products like cosmetics, sunscreen, shampoo and even pizza boxes and microwaveable popcorn bags contain PFAS chemicals. PFAS chemicals are also used in pesticides, medical procedures and many other applications.

They have also been found in drinking water in Indianapolis and on several military bases around the state.

PFAS chemical are a part of our lives due to their utility, but may be putting the health of Hoosiers at risk.

Some PFAS chemicals, like PFOS and PFOA, have been linked to serious adverse health conditions like an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer, increased cholesterol levels, increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, decreased birth weight and decreased vaccine response in children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said exposure to high levels of PFAS also affects the immune system, potentially making COVID-19 more deadly to some people.

Those health risks were found in the most commonly studied PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, but it’s not known definitively whether those risks are present in all PFAS chemicals.

Companies are not required to test a chemical’s safety before they begin selling it. That responsibility is left to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

But with thousands of existing PFAS chemicals still needing review and new PFAS and other chemicals being introduced every year, the EPA could take centuries to finish its review of all chemicals.

While those reviews await, PFAS chemicals continue to make their way into the environment and our bodies…”