Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances or “PFAS” for short, which do not exist naturally in our world, were first made in the 1940’s for the Manhattan Project enabling the completion of the Atomic Bomb. Since that time, several thousand PFAS products have come into existence with the most common being TeflonTM non-stick cookware which contained PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid), ScotchgardTM stain-resistant treatment which contained PFOS (Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) and firefighting foams/clothing that use both. Recently these chemicals have been linked to causing cancer in animals and humans in addition to being implicated in numerous other health and environment related issues.
Since the early 2000’s PFOA/PFOS are no longer made in the US; but they are still made in other countries and enter US markets via importation or website purchases from online markets like Amazon. Industry has tried to come up with “less toxic” forms of PFAS chemicals, but to date it appears that the replacements are equally toxic. This has left the US with tens of thousands of PFAS products that bioaccumulate in landfills. These landfills produce leachate that in places is added into wastewater treatment plant effluent. Treated wastewater can then be used as drinking water and/or turned into biosolids that in some places are used to fertilize farmland. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 98% of Americans have an average level of 10,000 parts per trillion (ppt) of a PFAS in their blood; this amount is significantly higher than the 2016 suggested drinking water health advisory level of 70 ppt, currently under review by EPA for updating to reflect current science. Additionally, these chemicals can stay in the soil for almost 200 years, in human blood for 16+ years and in the air for about 9 months.
Although some progress has been made in removing PFAS from drinking water, these systems are experimental, very expensive, and do not remove these substances from biosolids. Furthermore, few products identify PFAS on labels making it difficult to avoid exposure. The only way consumers can minimize exposure is to contact the manufacturer and ask if there are PFAS in the product(s) in question and understand that the phrase “we do not intentionally add PFAS to our products” means it is likely present!
May 18, 2022 07:00 PM
Presented by Joe Dinardo
Biography: Joseph C. DiNardo, MS – Toxicologist
Joe DiNardo is a retired personal care products toxicologist, formulator and regulatory affairs person with 45+ years of experience. DiNardo worked for Revlon/Almay (1976–1993) as VP of R&D for Almay and Corporate VP for Revlon. He was co-founder of a research and technology company called Pharma Cosmetix Research (1993 – 2013) that consulted and developed various technologies for a range of personal care product companies, including Allergan, Elizabeth Arden, and Burt’s Bees and several small independent medical professional groups. DiNardo retired in 2013 and since retiring has pursued environmental toxicology concerns associated with various chemicals (PFAS, PCBs, 1,4-dioxane, various phenol-based chemicals … etc.).
DiNardo holds a M.S. degree in Toxicology from St. John’s University in New York, wrote a textbook used to train estheticians along with various chapters for scientific books, published several manuscripts in the areas of sunscreen, reproductive and general toxicology, dermatology, in vivo/in vitro photobiology, comedogenicity, alpha hydroxy acid and antioxidant safety/efficacy. He also holds several domestic and international patents for various technologies. DiNardo has worked with several industry groups over the years and has served on numerous task force/committees for the personal care industry.
Graphic amended by RACC courtesy of Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy – https://www.michigan.gov/pfasresponse