Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a large group of man-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s. In the United States, making and using these chemicals in consumer products has greatly decreased during the last 10 years, but people can still be exposed to PFAS because they are still present in the environment. Scientists have studied how PFAS affect animals’ health but are still trying to understand how exposure to PFAS affects human health. Over the last decade, interest in PFAS has been growing. ATSDR and our state health partners are investigating exposure to PFAS at a number of sites. More…
Sources of Exposure to PFAS
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.
Health Effects of PFAS
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 Clinician Guidance [PDF – 558 KB]
- PFAS Continuing Education for Clinicians
- PFAS Fact Sheet [PDF – 62 KB]
- New! PFAS Family Tree – Community [PDF – 282 KB]
- New! PFAS Family Tree – Environmental Health Professionals [PDF – 425 KB]
- ToxFAQs™ for Perfluoroalkyls
- ToxGuide™ for Perfluoroalkyls [PDF – 102KB]
- Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls
Environmental Protection Agency
- Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) in Your Environment
- Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFOA and PFOS
- Page last reviewed: September 18, 2015
- Page last updated: May 10, 2017
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