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PFAS in Missouri: The Chemistry Behind Perfluoroalkyl Substances in Our Water Supply

July 30, 2021 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

You may have a toxic build-up of chemicals in your body. EPA reports that nearly every woman, man, and child is exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are human-made chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and other chemicals.

PFAS are a family of chemicals made of a long string of carbon atoms with fluorine. They are called "forever chemicals" because the fluorine-carbon bond is one of the strongest chemical bonds in nature. It takes a lot of energy to break fluorine and carbon apart. According to the EPA, PFOA and PFOS are the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and the human body. Humans excrete PFAS very slowly and PFOA and PFAS are detected in 99% of the US population’s blood serum. 

PFAS compounds have been shown to cause issues with the reproductive system and cancer in high concentrations. The EPA reports PFAS chemicals are also associated with low infant birth weights, effects on the immune system, cancer (for PFOA), and thyroid hormone disruption (for PFOS).

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