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January 26, 2023

Public Service Announcement


 Date 01.26.2023


Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a group of approximately 5,000 human-made chemicals that are manufactured for their oil and water-resistant properties. Since the 1940s, PFAS have been used in a wide range of consumer products, industrial processes, and in some fire-fighting foams (called aqueous film-forming foam or AFFF). This has resulted in PFAS being released into the air, water and soil.

PFAS are made up of chains of carbon and fluorine linked together. The carbon-fluorine bond is one of the shortest and strongest bonds in nature and does not easily break down under natural conditions. For this reason, PFAS are often referred to as “forever chemicals.”

PFAS are used in many industrial and consumer processes to make everyday items non-stick, or water-, oil-, or stain-resistant. Examples of where you can find PFAS include:

  • Food packaging - fast food containers, lunch meat paper, disposable plates and bowls, and oil-, water- and grease-resistant coatings on food packaging
  • Commercial household products - non-stick coated cookware (Teflon), cleaning products, waxes, polishes, and adhesives
  • Clothing and fabric textiles - stain- and water-resistant carpeting and upholstery, water repellant clothing, tents, umbrellas, shoes, and leather goods
  • Cosmetics and personal care products - shampoos, conditioners, sunscreens, cosmetics, and dental floss
  • Building and exterior use products - paints and sealants
  • Industrial use - metal plating and finishing, wire coatings, automotive fluids, and the manufacture of artificial turf
  • Firefighting foam - aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF)

PFAS are mobile in soil and groundwater. PFAS has been measured in indoor air, outdoor air, dust, food, water, and various consumer products. Occupational exposure to PFAS for some individuals, such as those working in PFAS manufacturing facilities, installing or treating carpets, or firefighters using PFAS containing firefighting foams, may be higher than the general public. Potential routes of PFAS exposure include:

  • Ingestion - through contaminated food, water, dust, and hand-to-mouth transfer with PFAS treated products)
  • Dermal - likely through high occupational exposures, as PFAS are not easily absorbed through the skin
  • Inhalation - both outdoor and indoor air may contain PFAS. PFAS in outdoor air may be attributed to manufacturing releases. Clothing, textiles, and carpets treated with PFAS may result in higher concentrations of some PFAS in indoor air.

Current scientific literature indicates that most exposure to the general public is through ingestion of food and water.

PFAS are bioaccumulative, meaning they build up in the body over time. They have long half-lives and take several years to be eliminated from the body.  Exposure to PFAS does not necessarily mean that a person will get sick or experience an adverse health effect. Researchers continue working to fully understand the effects on human health. While research on the effects of PFAS exposure on human health is ongoing, current scientific studies have identified possible adverse health effects such as increased cholesterol levels, increased risk for thyroid disease, low infant birth weights, reduced response to vaccines, liver and kidney toxicity, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

How can you reduce your exposure? Preventing all exposure to PFAS is not practical due to the widespread historic and current use of PFAS, which are commonly used in consumer products throughout the world. Exposure can be reduced by avoiding or limiting exposure with some products, as follows:

  • Use non-stick coated cookware according to manufacturer guidelines (not all non-stick coatings contain PFAS).
  • Use stainless steel or cast-iron cookware in place of non-stick coated items.
  • Avoid oil and water-resistant food packaging.
  • Avoid stain resistant coatings on carpet, furniture and clothing.
  • Avoid water repellants on clothing.
  • Use personal care products without “PTFE” or “Fluoro” ingredients.
  • Use water filters designed to remove PFAS.
  • Dust household surfaces with a damp cloth regularly.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends consumers eat a varied, well-balanced diet, noting that results from initial PFAS testing in the general food supply did not support needing to avoid certain foods due to PFAS contamination. 

For more information, please visit bit.ly/IEPA-PFAS.

**KCHD’s Weekly COVID-19 data ended on Nov. 1, 2022. This data can be found at https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/.

For more information on COVID-19 Vaccine, please visit our Kendall County Health Department COVID-19 Vaccine information page

Serving the Residents of Kendall County Since 1966
811 W. John Street, Yorkville, IL 60560   •   630-553-9100