What are PFAS and how are people exposed to them?

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances are a group of chemical compounds called PFAS. Two PFAS chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), were extensively produced and are the most studied and regulated of these chemicals. Several other PFAS that are similar to PFOS and PFOA exist. These PFAS are contained in some firefighting foams used to extinguish oil and gas fires. They have also been used in a number of industrial processes and to make carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture, paper packaging for food and other materials (e.g., cookware) that are resistant to water, grease and stains. Because these chemicals have been used in many consumer products, most people have been exposed to them.

While consumer products and food are the largest source of exposure to these chemicals for most people,
drinking water can be an additional source of exposure in communities where these chemicals have
contaminated water supplies. Such contamination is typically localized and associated with a specific facility,
for example, an airfield at which they were used for firefighting or a facility where these chemicals were
produced or used.

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1. What are PFAS and how are people exposed to them?
2. What is the Massachusetts drinking water standard?
3. What health effects are associated with exposure to PFAS6?
4. How can I find out about contaminants in my drinking water?
5. What options should be considered when PFAS6 in drinking water is above MassDEP’s drinking water standard?
6. Where can I get more information on PFAS?
7. Where can I find more information about Treatment Devices for PFAS?