If PFAS are so bad, why aren’t they regulated?



p>Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. That’s the non-abbreviated name for PFAS, a group of industrially produced chemicals with an increasing level of concern surrounding them. In manufacturing, PFAS are favoured for their durability and well-functioning properties; they provide properties such as non-stick, water repellence, anti-grease or similar, to many types of products including cosmetics, frying pans, outdoor gear and firefighting foam.

There’s no denying that PFAS do the job they are intended for really well. In fact, PFAS work so well, and have been used to such an extent that almost every person in the world has measurable levels of PFAS chemicals in their blood.

Lately, more and more reports have been suggesting that it is a serious problem. Human epidemiological studies have found associations between PFAS exposure and a number of health disorders including kidney cancer, lowered birth weights and effects on the immune system.

Other studies show that PFAS are widely present in the environment and that 3% of the population in the US and in Sweden are exposed to above proposed limit values via drinking water. The mounting evidence against PFAS have now surpassed the sole awareness of the scientific community, and today many regular citizens are aware of this problematic group of chemicals.

This begs the question: If PFAS are that bad, how on earth can they still be allowed?

I´d say that there are several answers to this question. The most obvious being that regulation of many chemicals to date has been a hard-fought victory against a well-funded industry, lobbying to keep substances on the market (I’m mainly writing from an EU perspective, but the same goes for the US).

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