Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances | Chemical Insights
Home > Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

The Human Health Impact of PFAS Chemical Exposure

Sources of PFAS

PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of manmade chemicals used across many facets of our lives. There are thousands of different PFAS with widespread usage and application across several industries.

PFAS give products unique properties like:

THERMAL STABILITY

THERMAL STABILITY

The capacity to reduce flammability and heat

DURABILITY

DURABILITY

Resistance to impact and degradation

SURFACTANT ABILITY

SURFACTANT ABILITY

The ability to repel water, sweat, grease and stains

But the same properties that make PFAS so attractive for consumer and commercial use also contribute to potential exposure and human health risks. PFAS are made up of chains of carbon and fluorine atoms. The carbon-fluorine bond is arguably the strongest chemical bond in nature. This means that PFAS do not readily degrade in the environment or in the human body and is why they have the nickname “forever chemicals.”

PFAS are ubiquitous environmental contaminants and are commonly known as “FOREVER CHEMICALS.”
PFAS exposure occurs through three primary exposure routes.
PFAS exposure occurs through three primary exposure routes.

Data shows that approximately 97% of Americans have detectable blood levels of PFAS, but we do not fully understand how exposures occur and what the potential health consequences are. Limited studies have linked PFAS exposure to:

  • Altered fetal development
  • Impaired cognitive ability in young children
  • Negative effects on reproductive health
  • Immune system disorders
  • Prostate, kidney, and testicular cancers

Characterizing PFAS Exposure Associated with Textiles

Chemical Insights Research Institute (CIRI), in partnership with Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, is conducting a multi-phase research study that will provide key insights into human exposure risks and toxicological outcomes from the use of certain performance textiles, including:

Consumer wearables

Consumer wearables

Occupational wearables

Occupational wearables

Cover textiles

Cover textiles

The research will aim to:

  1. Develop methods for identifying and quantifying PFAS in the textiles,
  2. Acquire baseline data on PFAS in the textiles,
  3. Evaluate and compare PFAS release from the textiles, and
  4. Explore the parameters that influence PFAS exposure levels during use.

To conduct this research, CIRI will utilize their state-of-the-art human exposure chambers and specialty equipment and techniques to evaluate possible exposure from use of the textiles. They will study the potential inhalation of PFAS in the air, ingestion of PFAS in settled dust around the textile, and exposure from dermal, or skin, transfer.

The exposure chamber can simulate real work scenarios.

Insights gained from this research will assist in understanding potential health impacts and how material design, and use, contribute to human exposure risks. And ultimately, this information may lead to strategic exposure risk reduction measures.

What are PFAS?

PFAS are a group of manmade chemicals used across many facets of our daily lives.

Person holding baby while sitting in a chair

PFAS Research

CIRI and Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health team to study the human health impact of PFAS chemical exposure.

You may be interested in

PFAS |

PFAS in the Built Environment

May 14, 2024

PFAS |

PFAS Basics

May 14, 2024