Eternal Chemicals.. What are they?  What are the groups most vulnerable to it?

Eternal Chemicals.. What are they? What are the groups most vulnerable to it?

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN)– Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, have been in use since the 1950s. To make consumer products non-stick, oil- and water-repellent, and temperature-resistant. They are called “eternal chemicals” because they do not completely degrade in the environment.

This family of synthetic chemicals has been the subject of debate for years as scientists and environmentalists have uncovered additional evidence that some are harmful to human health at increasingly low levels.

The prestigious National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine published a more than 300-page report Thursday that provides detailed advice to clinicians on how to test, diagnose and treat millions of Americans who may have been exposed to PFAS.

“National academies are required to conduct studies that are free from the effects of advocacy, vested interests, and politics, and are viewed as a trusted impartial body,” said Dr. Ned Kalong, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health and chair of the committee that wrote the report.

The report identifies alarming levels in nanograms and encourages physicians to perform blood tests on patients concerned about exposure, or individuals at high risk (a nanogram is one billionth of a gram).

The report noted that people in “fragile life stages, such as fetal development during pregnancy, early childhood and old age, are at high risk.”

Firefighters, workers in fluorochemicals manufacturing plants, and those who live near commercial airports, military bases, landfills, incinerators and wastewater treatment plants are also at risk.

Hearing from citizens in town halls across America was part of the commission’s fact-gathering process.

Hope Grass of Pennsylvania, who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at the age of 25 after growing up near a naval base, described how her doctors laughed when she mentioned the possible exposure to the chemicals.

Michigan resident Sandy Wayne-Stilt discovered the contamination of her home’s drinking water dump, according to the report, and said pollution levels were 1,000 times higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe.

After paying for her out-of-pocket blood test, Wayne-Stelt and her doctor discovered she had early-stage thyroid cancer.

“half life”

Living near a major source of PFAS is not the only way to get exposed.

The list of common products that contain these substances is too numerous and almost unavoidable and includes rugs, sofas, non-stick cookware, stain-resistant clothing, cell phones, cosmetics, and the lining of fast food wrappers.

In fact, PFAS chemicals have been detected in the blood of 98% of Americans, according to a 2019 report that was drawn up using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

In the environment, PFAS can contaminate drinking water in public drinking water systems and private wells.

The chemicals can build up in the bodies of fish, shellfish, livestock and dairy products, according to the report.

The report explained that the chemicals remain in the body until “exposure to them has ceased”, and although blood levels of PFAS may decrease over time, PFAS levels “continue even after exposure has ended.”

That’s because PFAS can be stored in various parts of the body for years, according to Jane Hubin, a member of the Academies Committee, an environmental epidemiologist and deputy director of the Center for Human and Environmental Health at North Carolina State University.

But what is the reason for storing it for years? This is due to the “half-life” of many PFAS substances, Hoppen said, the time it takes for the chemical concentration in the body to drop by 50 percent.

Different levels of evidence

The report said the committee found “sufficient” scientific evidence for a relationship between exposure to PFAS, an increased risk of kidney cancer in adults, and abnormally high cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol contributes to cardiovascular disease, which is “the leading cause of death globally, claiming approximately 17.9 million lives each year”, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The panel found that exposure to these substances was also associated with reduced infant and fetal growth, as well as decreased antibody response to vaccines in adults and children.

The panel ended its research in June 2021, and Hoppen said: “I’m sure there is more information that may have been released recently.”

numbers game

The report recommended that blood tests look for seven types of PFAS that the US Centers for Disease Control and Control (CDC) currently monitors: MeFOSAA, PFHxS, PFOA, PFDA, PFunDA, PFOS and PFNA.

What can we do?

The report noted that there are ways to reduce exposure to PFAS chemicals. One of the main methods is to filter tap water, and the report mentioned a database of water filters that can reduce it.

Here are other suggestions for prevention of these substances:

Stay away from stain-resistant carpets and upholstery, and do not use water-resistant sprays

Look for PTFE, or other “fluoro” ingredients on product labels

Avoid non-stick cookware and use iron, stainless steel or glass products instead

Cut out takeout containers and other food packaging. Instead, cook at home, eat more fresh food

Don’t eat microwave popcorn, or greasy paper-wrapped foods

Choose dental floss made of nylon, uncoated silk, or floss covered with natural wax

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