Out With PFAS, Considering Alternatives

PFAS are used as a coating on food packaging and are prevalent in other everyday items like personal care products and textiles.

Triple Pundit, and writer Riya Anne Polcastro, are new to us, and we appreciate their coverage of this complex topic, important both for health and environmental reasons:

Nixing PFAS is a Real Possibility: Here’s One Company That’s Doing It

Per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) have been getting a lot of negative publicity. And with good reason. Classified as “forever chemicals,” they’ve been found in food, water, soil, animals and even our blood. Although the extent of their effects is not fully understood, they are known to negatively impact human health in a variety of ways. But while many are calling for an overall ban on the chemicals, pushback from the industry seeks to simply switch out the PFAS we already know are harmful with lesser-known ones that likely have the same — or possibly even worse — effects.

Although PFAS proponents argue that the chemicals are necessary for every aspect of modern life, innovators in chemistry are working hard to develop newer, safer compounds. Impermea Materials is one such company. Its water-based solutions can be used in place of PFAS in a variety of products — including packaging, apparel, upholstery, and technical textiles such as those worn by firefighters and military.

“We use different types of particles that are all inherently safe, they’re amorphous,” David Zamarin, founder and CEO of Impermea Materials, told TriplePundit. “What we do is very different than the traditional chemical companies that are out there. We synthesize our own material and, by doing so, we can control a lot of the polymers and their functionality, which is very different because a lot of companies are just formulators.”

PFAS are everywhere

PFAS, or fluorinated chemicals, are ubiquitous in modern life. They are used in everyday items we all depend on, from cleaning and personal care products to non-stick cookware, touchscreens, batteries and fuel cells. They also appear in waterproof, flame-retardant and stain-resistant coatings on food packaging, upholsteries and textiles, among many more uses. As such, these chemicals have found their way into just about every part of our lives, down to the soil that grows our food, the water we drink, and sometimes even the air we breathe.

PFAS exposure is not equally distributed across the country. Those working in the industry’s manufacturing plants have the highest amounts of the forever chemicals in their blood, followed by people who live in areas with high levels of groundwater contamination, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But that doesn’t mean anyone is free and clear of the stuff — it’s in just about everyone’s blood in the U.S.

But what does that mean for our health? While not enough is known about the consequences of PFAS — especially at low levels — we do know that some levels of exposure increase the risk of various cancers, reproductive problems, developmental delays, compromised immunity, hormonal issues, obesity and elevated cholesterol…

Read the whole article here.

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