Read the full article by Gabrielle Emanuel (WBUR)
“It’s impossible to completely avoid PFAS, a class of human-made chemicals that has been linked to a growing list of serious medical concerns. There are thousands of types of PFAS, and many are not well studied. Yet they’re in everything from stain-resistant rugs to dental floss, outdoor gear, food packaging and soil.
‘These chemicals are in all of us — everyone — and they’re everywhere,’ said Linda Birnbaum, the former director of the federal government’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program.
Birnbaum and others have advocated for better regulation and more limited use of PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
‘We really have to turn off the tap for this stuff,’ Birnbaum said.
While scientists work to better understand these chemicals and their risks, there are some strategies you can use to reduce your exposure.
WBUR spoke to more than a half-dozen PFAS experts to learn what changes they’ve made in their own lives and what they recommend to avoid PFAS.
Tips to mitigate your PFAS risk
1. Check your drinking water for PFAS
‘Based on what we currently know, contamination in drinking water tends to be the most critical route of exposure for the majority of the general population,’ said Megan Romano, an epidemiologist at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine.
So, what can be done?
First, a key question is whether your tap water comes from a municipal system or a private well.
For those on municipal water, the good news is that Massachusetts has some of the strictest drinking water standards for PFAS in the country. That means there’s testing for and good data about what’s in municipal water — and a requirement to fix it, if levels are too high.
You can search for data on your community by going to this state website and typing in ‘PFAS6’ under ‘chemical name.’
For those who get water from a private well, you’ll likely have to pay for your own test.
The state provides data from well water samples taken in municipalities where more than 60% of residents rely on private wells. It’s worth noting that PFAS levels can vary within a small area. So even if your neighbors have test results, experts say it’s still worth getting your own well tested.
Certified labs can do PFAS water testing. However, there are not many labs in Massachusetts that do this testing, and it can cost close to $500. The state maintains a database of certified labs as well as an FAQ for private well owners.
Water filters and bottled water
If you have PFAS in your well water or municipal water, filters can help, although their effectiveness varies.
Two types of filters are known to reduce PFAS: reverse osmosis and granular activated carbon filters. The key is to keep up with regular maintenance and replace the filters as instructed. Duke University provides a tip sheet on the different types of filters.
Don’t forget: Bottled water isn’t always better since it often isn’t tested for PFAS. Massachusetts created water quality standards for bottlers that include PFAS testing and provides a list of those licensed to distribute in the state.”…