Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Navigating the PFAS Landscape: Understanding the Risks, Regulations, and Opportunities - Anthesis

Navigating the PFAS Landscape: Understanding the Risks, Regulations, and Opportunities

June 14, 2023 | News,

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of more than 12,000 synthetic chemicals that have been used in a wide range of products and industries. These substances are known for their ability to resist heat, water, and stains, which has made them popular in products such as non-stick cookware, food packaging, and firefighting foam. They are also used in other everyday products, like waterproof clothing, furniture and carpets, and personal care items. Despite their useful properties, PFAS have raised concerns due to their potential harmful impacts on human health and the environment.

PFAS have been found in the blood of 97% of Americans

How are we exposed to PFAS?

PFAS have been known to stay in the human body for years and do not break down in the environment. According to a study by the CDC, PFAS have been found in the blood of 97% of Americans. People are exposed to PFAS through various avenues, such as contaminated water or food, using products with PFAS, or breathing air contaminated with PFAS. PFAS can also be leaked into the soil, water, and air over time, especially when used in services such as aerospace, automotive, construction, and electronic industries. Improper disposal of PFAS can result in the contamination of soil and water.

Health and environmental impacts of PFAS

PFAS have been linked to several potential health impacts in humans, including cancer, immune system disorders, and developmental effects. Some studies have also suggested that exposure to PFAS may increase the risk of certain types of cancer, such as liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Additionally, individuals who are located close to PFAS-contaminated waters have shown increased rates of adverse medical effects.

In addition to their potential impacts on human health, PFAS can also have negative effects on the environment. For example, these substances can accumulate in the bodies of animals, leading to potential impacts on their health and reproductive capabilities. PFAS can also interfere with the normal functioning of ecosystems, as they can disrupt the balance of species and cause negative impacts on biodiversity.

Regulations and efforts to reduce PFAS

In response to the potential health and environmental impacts of PFAS, national and international regulators have begun to take action to reduce the use of these substances. For example, the European Union has banned the use of certain PFAS in food contact materials, and the United States has identified several PFAS as hazardous substances that are subject to reporting and management requirements under the Superfund law.

In addition to regulatory efforts, many companies have also taken steps to reduce the use of PFAS in their products. Some companies have developed alternatives to PFAS or have implemented programs to phase out the use of these substances. In the food packaging industry, alternatives to PFAS-based materials include paper, cardboard, and plant-based materials. In the firefighting industry, alternatives to PFAS-based foams include water, foam concentrates made from plant-based materials, and other synthetic foams. Retailers such as REI have made commitments to ban PFAS from all their textile and cookware products from suppliers, with the restriction aimed to take effect in fall of 2024.

However, transitioning to PFAS alternatives can present some challenges and considerations. It may be necessary to consider the performance and cost of the alternative materials, as well as any potential impacts on human health and the environment. It may also be necessary to invest in research and development to identify and develop new alternatives to PFAS.

What should we do about PFAS?

PFAS contamination poses a great risk to human and environmental health. There are a range of solutions to addressing the harmful implications of using PFAS, such as stopping the flow of new PFAS into the market and pushing for stronger federal and state regulations against PFAS.

At Anthesis, we help companies understand the implications of PFAS regulation on their business, identify hotspots in their supply-chain where PFAS contamination is likely, and provide expertise on alternatives. Our chemistry experts can help decrease the risk of regrettable substitutions by performing in-depth alternative studies and providing guidance on steps to transition to more sustainable products. We are committed to helping our clients remove high risk and hazardous materials from their portfolio through analysis, evaluation, and innovation.

Anthesis provides several services that assist companies in addressing PFAS in their products, including:

  • Assessing the implications of PFAS regulation on the business
  • Help companies identify, track, and manage PFAS across supply chains
  • Perform in-depth alternative materials analysis to decrease the risk of regrettable substitutions
  • Develop roadmaps and best practice guidance for transitioning to sustainable products


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