Modern-day life is chock-full of some pretty luxurious conveniences. Things like waterproof shoes, stain-proof clothes, and non-stick cookware are designed to make our lives easier. And while there’s no denying that these products can certainly be useful, they also come with some unhealthy consequences.
Many of these man-made products designed with convenience in mind are also loaded with toxic chemicals known as PFAS. Recent reports from the United States Environmental Protection Agency reveal that PFAS may be a bigger issue than we originally thought.
Today we’re going to explore exactly what PFAS are, why they’re so concerning, where you might be exposed to them, and most importantly – what you can do to protect yourself from these harmful toxins. Let’s dive in.
What Are Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)?
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS for short, are a class of man-made chemicals that encompasses thousands of different compounds. At a molecular level, PFAS are composed of a chain of linked fluorine and carbon atoms. The chemical bond between carbon and fluorine is incredibly strong. This makes these chemicals difficult to break apart, so they don’t degrade over time in the environment.1
In fact, the chemical bond is so strong and so resistant to degradation, that scientists aren’t even able to estimate PFAS’ environmental half-life (the amount of time it takes for 50% of a chemical to break down and disappear). Because of their ability to persist against environmental degradation, PFAS have been dubbed “forever chemicals.”
This is particularly troublesome because these forever chemicals are found in countless products and industries – meaning environmental levels continue to grow and accumulate at an unprecedented rate.
What Are PFAS Used For?
PFAS are extremely useful in a number of industries because these chemicals are heat-resistant, waterproof, and stain-repellent. For those reasons, PFAS are utilized in countless everyday products including:2
- Fabric treatments and sprays
- Food packaging
- Heat-resistant non-stick cooking surfaces
- Personal care products and cosmetics
- Insulation of electrical wire
- Firefighting foam
Because PFAS have been used in so many consumer products for decades, it’s no surprise that these chemicals have permeated into just about every nook and cranny of our environment.
Where Are PFAS Found?
PFAS have leached their way into our water, soil, food, and air. Unfortunately, some level of PFAS can be found just about everywhere. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released reports revealing that certain areas across the United States may be facing dangerously high contamination levels.
The EPA estimates that there are over 120,000 sites across the U.S. that are either utilizing, handling, or harboring high concentrations of PFAS – subsequenlly amplifying PFAS contamination levels in surrounding areas. The 120,000 sites include operations such as:3,4
- Industrial manufacturing plants
- Oil, gas, and mining operations
- Military sites
- Some airports
In fact, PFAS are so prevalent that they are raising concerns in cities across the United States – including my beloved home state of Colorado.
Concerning PFAS Levels Found in Colorado
In a recent article published by the Denver Post here in Colorado, national health and environmental organizations are voicing growing concerns over the increasing levels of PFAS in surrounding areas thanks to local oil and gas well fracking practices.5 Fracking involves injecting a stream of high-pressure water, sand, and chemicals underground to open fissures that allow oil and gas to flow more freely.
While the amount of chemicals used in this fracking fluid is small, even a miniscule amount can be highly toxic if it makes its way into drinking water and agricultural crops. And considering the fact that Colorado boasts roughly 49,850 active oil and gas wells, PFAS contamination is a legitimate and very real concern we may be facing.
This is particularly unsettling when you consider the grave health consequences that have been linked to PFAS.
PFAS Health Effects: What Do PFAS Do to the Human Body?
The primary concern when it comes to PFAS is the fact that they accumulate – not only in the environment, but also within our bodies. As these toxic chemicals build up in your body, they can throw your entire body off-kilter and cause a wide range of health problems, such as:6,7
- An increased risk of cancer – particularly testicular, prostate, and kidney cancers
- Reproductive issues – such as decreased fertility and/or an increased risk of elevated blood pressure or preeclampsia in pregnant women
- Developmental delays in babies and children – such as low birth weight, behavioral changes, variations in bone development, and/or accelerated puberty
- Depression of the immune system – resulting in increased susceptibility to infections and a reduced response to vaccines
- Interference and disruption of hormonal balance
- Changes in the production and secretion of liver enzymes
- Increased cholesterol levels and an increased risk of obesity
With such serious effects on human health, the accumulation of PFAS in our environment is no small matter. So what can we do to protect ourselves?
How Can I Protect Myself from PFAS?
Because PFAS are present just about everywhere you turn, it’s impossible to entirely avoid these forever chemicals. But the good news is, you can take some simple steps to protect yourself from these toxins. Here’s what I recommend:
Invest In a Quality Water Filtration System:
PFAS and other toxic chemicals can be readily found floating around in many water sources – including your drinking water. Investing in a high-quality water filtration system that’s designed to remove and neutralize toxins and impurities like PFAS can go a long way in reducing your overall exposure.
But when it comes to water purification systems, they are not all created equally. Look for filtration systems that have lab tests backing up their claims and proving their systems actually remove toxic pollutants like PFAS. My favorite water purification systems that I use and trust are Berkey Water Filters and Clearly Filtered Water Filters.
Ditch the Non-Stick Cookware:
Non-stick cookware is chock-full of PFAS that can easily be transferred to your food and make their way directly into your body. Stick with less-toxic cookware like stainless steel, cast-iron, stone, or glass.
Reduce Your Overall Toxic Burden:
Exposure to things like EMFs, indoor air pollution, and other harmful compounds can contribute to the accumulation of toxins in your body, and subsequent toxic overload. But taking steps to reduce your overall exposure, also known as your “toxic burden” or “toxic load”, can help keep your body’s natural detoxification pathways running smoothly. Click here to learn more about how you can reduce your toxic burden.
Filter Your Air:
Indoor air can be notoriously polluted and can contain PFAS and other harmful chemicals. Investing in an air filtration system that removes contaminants and cycles out clean air can help minimize PFAS in your home. I personally recommend Air Doctor and Austin Air for top-notch air filtration systems to incorporate in your home or office.
Keep Your Gut Happy and Healthy:
Your gut plays a monumental role in protecting you from absorbing and storing toxins. You see, your digestive system is designed to stay sealed up tight – only permitting certain molecules to pass into your bloodstream and shuttling toxins and waste out. So it’s crucial to keep your gut happy and healthy.
One of the best ways to show your gut some love is to prioritize eating a healthy, well-rounded diet that focuses on whole foods – like fresh produce, high-quality proteins, and healthy fats. This ensures you’re getting all of your essential vitamins and minerals. It can also be helpful to incorporate gut-boosting supplements like probiotics, Gut Immune, and collagen to really beef up your tummy’s defenses.
Enhance Your Natural Detoxification Abilities:
Your body is well-equipped to naturally process out toxins like PFAS through your natural detoxification pathways. You can give your natural detox capabilities a boost by integrating techniques like PEMF therapy, infrared saunas, and detox binders. Adding in additional supplements like glutathione, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D can also give your immune system a hand in filtering out and eliminating these toxins.
So, How Worried Should I Be About PFAS?
The ever-growing amount of toxins infiltrating our environment and our bodies is certainly not something to take lightly. PFAS and other chemicals can have very real implications for our health. But the good news is, we are not at the mercy of our environment.
While the influx of chemicals that are making their way into our lives may be out of our control, when it comes to your health and well-being, the control is in your hands. You have a monumental amount of power over your own health. The simple fact that you’ve invested the time and energy to be here engaging with this article means you’re on the right track.
The first step to safeguarding and optimizing your health is arming yourself with knowledge. So if you enjoyed this article and are looking for more ways to prioritize your health, I encourage you to check out the hundreds of articles I have available on my blog. And if you want to take it even deeper, you can get my best advice and resources delivered straight to your inbox by entering your name and email address in the form below.
Now it’s time to hear from you. Were you surprised to learn just how harmful PFAS can be? What steps are you taking to protect yourself from PFAS and other toxins? Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments below!
- Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) (nih.gov)
- Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS) Factsheet | National Biomonitoring Program | CDC
- 120,000 US Sites May Have ‘Forever Chemicals,’ EPA Data Says: Guardian (insider.com)
- Revealed | EPA Data on potential PFAS Sites (peer.org)
- “Forever chemicals” used to frack oil, gas wells in Colorado, new report says (denverpost.com)
- Potential health effects of PFAS chemicals | ATSDR (cdc.gov)
- Our Current Understanding of the Human Health and Environmental Risks of PFAS | US EPA
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.