Understanding why this is important

The most notorious PFAS chemicals – PFOA, the Teflon chemical, and PFOS, an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard – were phased out in the U.S. under pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency after revelations of their hidden hazards.

These PFAS chemical containing products are still permitted in items imported to Australia.

However, it is more than the Environment that needs to be protected from these forever chemicals. Numerous studies link these and related PFAS chemicals to Human Health conditions such as:

  • Testicular, kidney, liver and pancreatic cancer.
  • Reproductive problems
  • Weakened childhood immunity
  • Low birth weight
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Increased cholesterol
  • Weight gain in children and dieting adults

 

PFOA, PFOS and the related phased-out compounds are called “long chain” chemicals because they contain eight carbon atoms. Since these chemicals have been phased out, the EPA and the Food and Drug Administration in the US have recklessly allowed the introduction of scores of “short chain” replacements, with six carbon atoms.

Chemical companies claim this revised chemical structure makes them safer. However, extensive research supports the finding that short-chains may pose even worse risks than long-chains, that supports science’s’ growing determination that the entire class of PFAS are hazardous.

Some Industry Groups and NFP’s in Australia, are treating the PFAS issue as an environmental issue and negating the massive human health implications that are associated with PFAS exposure.

The impacts on human health are immense. A recent analysis of impacts from PFAS exposure in Europe identified annual direct healthcare expenditures at €52–84 billion.12 Equivalent health-related costs for the United States, accounting for population size and exchange rate differences, would be $37–59 billion annually. These costs are not paid by the polluter – the company making or selling these products; they are borne by ordinary people, health care providers, and taxpayers.