Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of human-made chemicals that are found in a wide range of products used by consumers and industry. There are nearly 5,000 different types of PFAS, some of which have been more widely used and studied than others. Many PFAS are resistant to grease, oil, water, and heat. For this reason, beginning in the 1940’s, PFAS have been used in a variety of applications including in stain- and water-resistant fabrics and carpeting, cleaning products, paints, and fire-fighting foams. Certain PFAS are also authorized by the FDA for limited use in cookware, food packaging, and food processing equipment.
The widespread use of PFAS and their ability to remain intact in the environment means that over time PFAS levels from past and current uses can result in increasing levels of environmental contamination. Accumulation of certain PFAS has also been shown through blood tests to occur in humans and animals. While the science surrounding potential health effects of this bioaccumulation of certain PFAS is developing, evidence suggests it may cause serious health conditions.
As the science on PFAS advances, the FDA will continue working with other Department of Health and Human Services agencies including the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as other federal agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Defense, in addition to our state and local partners, to identify routes of PFAS exposure, understand associated health risks, and reduce the public’s exposure to those health risks.