Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and Your Health

Human exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is a public health concern that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) are helping our local, territorial, tribal, state, and federal partners address. Over the last decade, interest in PFAS has been growing. ATSDR and our state health partners are investigating exposure to and possible health effects associated with PFAS in more than 30 communities across the United States.

PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s. They have been used in non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, some firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil.


PFAS Exposure

PFAS are man-made, so there are no natural sources in the environment. However, PFAS can be found near areas where they are manufactured or where products containing PFAS are often used. PFAS can travel long distances, move through soil, seep into groundwater, or be carried through air.


PFAS Health Effects

The potential for health effects from PFAS in humans is not well understood. PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS and PFNA have generally been studied more extensively than other PFAS. In general, animal studies have found that animals exposed to PFAS at high levels resulted in changes in the function of the liver, thyroid, pancreas and hormone levels.


ATSDR PFAS Related Sites

ATSDR is involved at a number of PFAS-related sites, either directly or through assisting state and federal partners. As of now, most sites are related to drinking water contamination connected with PFAS production facilities or fire training areas where aqueous film-forming firefighting foam (AFFF) was regularly used.


PFAS and your community

Federal agencies have a variety of tools that provide federal, state, tribal, and local governments, as well as health professionals and the public with information about how a PFAS might affect a person’s health. All of them can be used together to create a more complete picture of how to assess potential health risks from PFAS. Learn more: