The Majority of Americans are Not Aware of the Dangerous PFAS ‘Forever Chemicals’

According to a recent poll, over half of Americans have never heard of the potentially harmful “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

According to Texas A&M University researchers, PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, are a class of thousands of manmade chemicals that are increasingly becoming a problem for the environment and public health.

Nonetheless, results released Nov. 16 in the journal PLOS One show that 45% of survey respondents had never heard of PFAS and were unaware of their existence.

“The majority of people do not have a clear understanding of PFAS, according to our survey—which is the first of its kind,” lead researcher Allen Berthold, interim director of the university’s Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI), stated.

According to studies, PFAS are referred to as “forever chemicals” because they form one of the strongest chemical connections imaginable when carbon and fluorine molecules are combined. This makes it extremely difficult to remove and break down PFAS. According to studies, PFAS chemicals have been present in consumer items since the 1940s. Examples of these products include food wrappers, nonstick cookware, and fire extinguishing foam.

PFAS have also been found in water and food sources.

A nationwide guideline for PFAS in drinking water was suggested by the Environmental Protection Agency in March. According to estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey, at least 45% of the country’s tap water includes one or more PFAS compounds.

Audrey McCrary, a TWRI program expert and research co-author, stated, “Research has come out in the last year showing that many Americans are exposed to PFAS, including through drinking water supplies, whether they know it or not.”

According to U.S. research, PFAS may disrupt infant development, interfere with fertility, and raise the risk of some malignancies. Agency for Environmental Protection.

Researchers noted that despite this, many people are still ignorant of the dangers and widespread nature of PFAS.

Berthold stated in a Texas A&M press release, “When I ask an audience at a public presentation if they’ve ever heard of PFAS, usually only a few people from a room of 100 will say yes, and that’s fairly consistent with these survey results.” “PFAS in drinking water has drawn attention from the media and regulators this year, but until this study, the public’s awareness of the contaminant was not quantified.”

1,100 people from all around the United States participated in an online survey that the research team performed for the study.

The results reveal that in addition to the 45% who had no idea what PFAS were, 32% had heard the phrase but were unsure of its meaning.

Of those surveyed, over 97% denied that the PFAS in their drinking water was present, and just around 12% were aware that PFAS had been present in their town.

The presence of PFAS in one’s neighborhood was the best indicator of one’s knowledge of the chemicals, according to study co-author and TWRI research expert Michael Schramm.

But almost half of those who acknowledged being exposed to PFAS claimed they had no idea what the chemicals really were, according to Schramm. “This suggests a significant void in the public’s access to information.”

Regarding PFAS awareness, the study observed no significant differences between the groups of participants.

According to TWRI research expert Stephanie deVilleneuve, a co-author of the study, “it was very notable that there was no statistical difference depending on race, gender, or age — perception was largely the same across the board.”

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