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The Prevalence of PFAS: Here’s What to Know

Posted on 9/14/2022

in Environmental News

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If you have never heard of PFAS, we’ll break down everything you need to know about these widespread chemical compounds. You may not have known it, but PFAs are everywhere in our environment, including many everyday items and in our products. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, aka PFAS, are known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they disintegrate extremely slowly¹, harming our environment in the process.

The surge in PFAS chemicals infiltrating our lives raises significant biological and ecological concerns. At Green Paper Products, we are committed to educating others about these chemicals and providing products made without Added-PFAS.  

The Nitty-Gritty of PFAS

In 1938, Roy Plunkett discovered a new chemical compound² that would stand the test of time. A seemingly impenetrable carbon-fluorine bond is created when carbon and fluorine are fused. The usage of this compound grew in popularity because PFAS improved a product’s resistance to heat, water, corrosion, and oil.  

What Industries Utilize PFAS? 

PFAS chemicals are utilized in various global industries for countless products. Since these substances possess superior non-stick, heat, and grease-resistant properties, they appeal to aerospace, construction, electronics, and food packaging companies. These are just a few examples of industries that use PFAS to produce their products. PFAs can also be found in water-resistant clothing, non-stick pans, cleaning products, cosmetics, and, most notably, food packaging³.

The Prevalence of PFAS in Food Packaging Industries

PFAS chemicals have been used for paper and paperboard food packaging as grease-proofing agents⁴ for years. Takeout containers, salad bowls, fast-food wrappers and pizza boxes often contain PFAS because it reduces the likelihood of oil, grease, or water leaking through the packaging.  

Environmental and Health Concerns 

The resistant qualities that have made this compound so appealing ultimately make them dangerous to the environment and ourselves. Specific PFAS like perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA⁵ do not decompose in the environment and can contaminate water and soil during the production process and when using the product. 

Our global rainwater supply is contaminated due to PFAs, indicating that our health and environmental concerns are here to stay.  According to EWG⁶, a PFAS contaminated water supply has been identified in all 50 states, resulting in over 200 million Americans being exposed to unsafe drinking water. PFAs’ chemical structures inhibit the molecules from breaking down in the environment, just as they do not break down in our bodies.

Research suggests that exposure to and consuming PFAS may lead to serious health conditions in adults and children. Studies⁷ have found substantial levels of these compounds in the blood of people and animals globally, demonstrating how prevalent it is in our daily lives. Impaired thyroid function, increased risk of certain cancers, and infertility have been linked to PFAS. According to the CDC, PFAS is also linked as a cause of low birth weight, delayed development, and damage to the liver and immune systems.⁸ Additional research is needed to improve our understanding of how PFAS may impact our bodies and the environment. 

The Importance of No Added-PFAS Products 

PFAs will never disappear entirely from the planet, but choosing to produce and purchase products made without Added-PFAS is a step toward protecting ourselves and the environment. PFAS are everywhere, so they will inevitably be present in everything, even at the molecular level. That being said, a No Added-PFAS product designation means no additional PFAs were used in the production process. 

Browse Our No-Added PFAS Products Today!

At Green Paper Products, we care about the health of our planet and people, which is why we work with our suppliers to source and sell products made with no added PFAS. This wide array of products includes: 

You can view our whole collection here

Sources: 

¹ staff, Science X. “Rainwater Unsafe to Drink Due to Chemicals: Study.” Phys.org - News and Articles on Science and Technology, Phys.org, 10 Aug. 2022, https://phys.org/news/2022-08-rainwater-unsafe-due-chemicals.amp. 

² Loria, Kevin, and Data visualizations by Andy Bergmann. “Dangerous Pfas Chemicals Are in Your Food Packaging.” Consumer Reports, https://www.consumerreports.org/pfas-food-packaging/dangerous-pfas-chemicals-are-in-your-food-packaging-a3786252074/. 

³ “Pfas Chemical Exposure.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 July 2022, https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/health-effects/exposure.html. 

⁴ Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Authorized Uses of Pfas in Food Contact Applications.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, https://www.fda.gov/food/chemical-contaminants-food/authorized-uses-pfas-food-contact-applications#:~:text=Paper%2Fpaperboard%20food%20packaging%3A%20PFAS,from%20leaking%20through%20the%20packaging.

⁵ “Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS) Factsheet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 May 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/PFAS_FactSheet.html#:~:text=The%20per%2Dand%20polyfluoroalkyl%20substances,stains%2C%20grease%2C%20and%20water. 

⁶ Ewg. “Interactive Map: Pfas Contamination Crisis: New Data Show 2,858 Sites in 50 States.” Interactive Map: PFAS Contamination Crisis: New Data Show 2,858 Sites in 50 States, https://www.ewg.org/interactive-maps/pfas_contamination/. 

⁷ “Pfas Chemicals Overview.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 July 2022, https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/health-effects/overview.html. 

⁸ “Potential Health Effects of Pfas Chemicals.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 Sept. 2022, https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/health-effects/index.html.