PFAS | Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of extremely persistent human-made chemical substances. Due to their inability to easily break down in the environment, they are often referred to as “forever chemicals”. As a result, levels of PFAS are commonly found in our water and our bloodstreams. Exposure to PFAS may occur through a variety of consumer products and have been associated with several adverse health outcomes.


It is possible to be exposed to PFAS through a variety of everyday PFAS containing consumer products. Some common sources of exposure are:

  • Cosmetic and personal care products (makeup, shampoo, soaps, dental floss etc.)
  • Non-stick cookware (Teflon)
  • Grease resistant food packaging (to-go containers, fast food wrappers, pizza boxes, etc.) 
  • Waterproof and stain resistant fabrics
  • Paints
  • Water supplies—PFAS easily enters and accumulates in our water supplies when we rinse our faces of PFAS containing cosmetics, wash PFAS containing non-stick cookware, or wash PFAS containing fabrics. Because of this, exposure to PFAS through water ingestion is extremely common.

Fact Sheet: Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) (PDF)

Health Risks

There is no proven safe level of PFAS. Laboratory testing has provided evidence for several negative health outcomes associated with PFAS exposure including:
  • Decreased liver function
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Altered immune function
  • Interference with the body’s natural hormones
  • Hypertension during pregnancy
  • Decrease response to vaccines among children
  • Delayed puberty

What You Can Do

Some alternatives and suggestions for limiting everyday PFAS exposure include:
  • Bringing your own reusable to-go containers (limit PFAS exposure while limiting your single-use waste!)
  • Avoid Teflon-based nonstick cookware
  • Pop your own popcorn over the stove or pop loose kernels in a covered bowl or paper bag in the microwave (PFAS coats the inside of popcorn bags!)
  • Look for PFAS free brands for household items such as dental floss, cleaning products, shampoo, cosmetics, cookware, and kitchen appliances