Lab Matters Winter 2018 - Page 24

environmental health Prepare for PFAS: An Emerging Chemical Threat By: Jennifer Liebreich, senior specialist, Environmental Health and Sarah Wright, senior specialist, Environmental Laboratories Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is a collective term for several subclasses of manmade chemicals which have been produced for decades and continue to be produced in large amounts. PFAS are found in consumer products, industrial emissions and firefighting foam. Used to make household products resistant to heat, water, oil and stains, exposure most often occurs through contaminated food or drinking water. Some, but not all, studies in humans with PFAS exposure have shown that certain PFAS may affect growth, learning and behavior of infants and older children, lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant, interfere with the body’s natural hormones, increase cholesterol levels, affect the immune system and increase the risk of cancer. As a result, federal agencies, states and local health departments have ramped up activities related to PFAS in recent years, and resources are available to conduct investigations in more areas of the country. PFAS Activities at CDC Human exposure to PFAS is a public health concern that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) and the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) are helping their local, territorial, tribal, state and federal partners to address. Over the last decade, interest in PFAS has been growing. NCEH/ATSDR is involved at a number of PFAS-related sites, either PFAS sites around the US with ATSDR involvement as of August 2017. Graphic by ATSDR Science Support Branch 22 LAB MATTERS Winter 2018 PublicHealthLabs @APHL APHL.org