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“Forever Chemicals” seem to be everywhere…forever

A study published this week in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology Letters shows us that the term “Forever Chemicals” for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is pretty accurate. Though “Forever and Everywhere Chemicals” might be even closer to reality. The recommended name change comes on the heels of the latest study undertaken by the University of Rhode Island and the Green Science Policy Institute.

Researchers at URI and the Green Science Policy Institute developed a method for testing the air of indoor spaces. Spaces such as classrooms, homes, offices, and warehouses. We’ve known for some time that PFAS can be found in our drinking water and food, but this new method allows us to learn even more about just how much PFAS we’re exposing ourselves to.

The two research teams developed tests using plastic sheets that allow them to trap and test the amount of PFAS present in the air of a location. They conducted tests in kindergarten classrooms, offices, laboratories, and numerous other locations. What was tough to learn though is that PFAS was detected in all of the other indoor environments studied. PFAS was found in offices, storage facilities, and even kindergarten classrooms.

What won’t surprise you to learn is that the highest levels of PFAS measured in the air came from the study done on the carpet warehouse. For years now carpet manufacturers have been some of the worst offenders when it comes to the use of PFAS as a stain and water repellant. Fortunately, some manufacturers and retailers including Home Depot have made strides in reducing the amount of PFAS used in their products or sold in their stores.

So what can we do to protect ourselves from these “forever and everywhere chemicals”? Well, frequent vacuuming and good ventilation is a start. Avoiding “no-stain” toxin products is another good move consumers can make. Again, it’s nice to see companies like Home Depot make an effort, but until real action is taken by the federal government, we’re likely going to have to rely on ourselves.

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