The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to issue a decision soon related to the chemical compounds perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl, known as PFAS. This comes after a public push for stricter regulation of the compounds, known to seep into water supplies and be dangerous even in small amounts.
Damian Helbling, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Cornell University, researches water quality as it relates to human and ecosystem health and is available for interviews about PFAS. He says the properties that make PFAS effective at repelling stains or fighting fires make them persist in the environment.
“Fluorochemicals are widely used in a variety of products including stain-repellant clothing and fire-fighting foams. The same properties that make fluorochemicals useful for protecting clothes or extinguishing fires allow them to persist in the environment for many years. Hundreds of fluorochemicals have been detected in water resources around the world, and some have been linked to an assortment of human health issues.”