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What is PFAS?

What is PFAS?

Per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of widely used chemicals present in various products around us. PFAS doesn’t break down in the environment and can accumulate in humans and animals.

We can be exposed to PFAS in air, food, water, soil, packaging, cosmetics, non-stick cookware, cleaning products, and personal care products. It’s gaining notoriety because we’re all exposed to it and it has been suspected of causing serious health effects including cancer, organ damage and endocrine disruption.

While there have been observed negative effects (such as increased cholesterol in blood, decreased kidney function, alterations in immune function, altered thyroid and sex hormones, and lower birth weight in babies), Australasian medical advice is that there is no clinical evidence of disease or harm.

Research is ongoing into this ‘forever chemical’ used in so many manufacturing processes. More evidence is needed to confirm the relationship between PFAS and some of the health conditions being attributed to it.

While it hasn’t be proven to do harm, some people are choosing to avoid PFAS. While it may be hard to avoid PFAS in the air, soil or food, there are steps you can take limit your exposure. You can avoid PFAS-containing consumer products, and you can ensure that your drinking water is above the Ministry of Health’s interim guideline levels for PFOS and PFOA (AsureQuality offers laboratory testing and analysis for PFAS contamination).

If you are concerned, you can get a blood test to measure PFAS levels. However, all New Zealanders are expected to have measurable amounts of PFAS in their bodies. There is no agreed ‘normal’ level and results can’t confirm if or how PFAS will affect your health.

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