Ask the Expert: How does NIEHS research on PFAS affect me?

By Caroline Stetler | Environmental Factor | May 6, 2024

Read the full article by Caroline Stetler (Environmental Factor)

"Research supported by NIEHS is helping to better assess and reduce exposure to a group of chemicals known as PFAS. These per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are added to many consumer products to make them nonstick, waterproof, and stain-resistant, persist in the environment and are sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals.” PFAS have been linked to a variety of health effects, including changes in immune and liver function, obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, and lower birth weights.

Federal public health and environmental agencies recently took significant steps to reduce exposure to PFAS. In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published PFAS Information for Clinicians explaining how and when to order blood tests for patients exposed to PFAS. In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the phaseout of PFAS substances used to grease-proof paper food packaging. And in April, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the first-ever legally enforceable PFAS drinking water standards to limit the amount of six PFAS in public water systems (see sidebar). Studies led by NIEHS scientists and grant recipients factored into the agencies’ decision making.

Scott Masten, Ph.D., who directs the Office of Portfolio Strategy in the NIEHS Division of Translational Toxicology (DTT), discussed the recent PFAS measures and what people can do to reduce their exposures."