PFAS are a group of about 4700 synthetic substances used as surfactants, lubricants and repellents for dust, water, and grease. They can also be found in firefighting foams, some textiles, cosmetics, and packaging materials. These man-made products pose a risk to the environment and to human health for several reasons.
Starting with the fact that these substances do not break down easily and can accumulate for a very long time. The difficulty in dealing with PFASs is caused by their strong fluorine and carbon elemental bonds. These bonds are so strong that they make it difficult to process these substances. Secondly, it has been shown that PFAS found in soil, water or air can be absorbed by plants or animals.
Polufluoroalkyl substances fall into several categories. Among these categories, several are already restricted from use in Canada. These include PFOS, PFOA and LC PFCAs (and their salts and precursors). In short, although many of these substances are known to be hazardous, after more than 80 years, PFASs are still allowed to be used and are being studied.
The dangers of PFAS
Since these substances present various dangers such as risks of liver damage, thyroid disease, fertility reduction, cancer proliferation, and many other types of complications.
A 2007 study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that PFAS in the blood could be detected in over 98% of the US population. Although these levels may be very low at times, over the long term, problems can be caused.
Finally, many PFAS are resistant to most chemical water treatments. However, for drinking water production, activated carbon is very effective against these contaminants.