What are PFAS?

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s and are (or have been) found in many consumer products like cookware, food packaging, and stain repellants. The first PFAS were invented in the 1930s and were the main ingredients in nonstick and waterproof coatings, according to the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (ITRC). Development of these chemicals increased in the late 1960s after a deadly fire aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Forrestal, in 1967. The fire resulted from the accidental launch of a rocket into armed planes and loaded fuel tanks. This blaze nearly destroyed the ship and killed more than 130 people. PFAS manufacturing and processing facilities, airports, and military installations that use firefighting foams are some of the main sources of PFAS. PFAS may be released into the air, soil, and water, including sources of drinking water. PFOA and PFOS are the most studied PFAS chemicals and stopped being produced in the United States in the early 2000s, though they are still present in the environment.

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1. What are PFAS?
2. Where do they come from?
3. Are there health effects from PFAS?