PFAS are a class of about 12,000 chemicals typically used to make thousands of consumer products resist water, stains and heat. They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down, and they are linked to cancer, fetal complications, liver disease, kidney disease, autoimmune disorders and other serious health issues.
Water is considered to be a main exposure route, but researchers have recently found contaminated food to be more of a risk than previously thought. Still, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken little action to address food contamination. It annually tests some food products for the chemicals, but developed a methodology that ignores what public health advocates say are dangerous levels.
“As we get better and better able to measure PFAS at lower levels and the FDA falls further behind on what it is testing … then you’re going to keep seeing these lawsuits pop up,” said Tom Neltner, chemicals policy director with the Environmental Defense Fund, a non-profit that pressures the FDA to take stronger action on PFAS.