The toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS are a class of environmentally persistent manmade chemicals that are used as water, grease and stain repellents in clothing and furniture, in industrial firefighting foam, and in the production of nonstick cookware.
PFAS, which are detected in the blood of nearly every American, are associated with multiple adverse health effects, including immunotoxicity, cancer and increased cholesterol, as well as developmental and reproductive toxicity.
Exposure can occur through food, water, indoor air and consumer products. PFAS chemicals readily cross through the placenta and have been detected in cord blood, indicating direct exposure to the developing fetus. PFAS are also detected in breast milk, which provides another exposure route for infants.
Such exposures can lead to developmental and reproductive toxicity from PFAS, including low birth weight, thyroid disruption, harm to the male reproductive system, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and some evidence of shorter duration of breastfeeding and infertility. The Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory values for the two best-known PFAS chemicals – PFOA, formerly used to make DuPont’s Teflon, and PFOS, formerly an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard – set in 2016, are based on developmental toxicity.
Click here to see EWG's developmental and reproductive toxicological assessment of PFAS.