Because of how long PFAs take to degrade, these chemicals are also known as “Forever Chemicals,” and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) formally acknowledged their presence in our country’s food supply in 2019.“PFAS is a family of nearly 5,000 synthetic chemicals that are extremely persistent in the environment and in our bodies. PFAS is short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances and includes chemicals known as PFOS, PFOA and GenX” This chemical has been known to cause serious health problems like liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression and cancer and was proven through a study in 2007 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that PFAs is likely in 98% of America’s population. However, how did this chemical spread to virtually the entire country of America? PFAs, which are utilized in many water and oil repellent items like non-stick cookware, unfortunately became airborne due to the nature of the chemical process, found their way into the water system, and ultimately created a cycle that affects all of us. The FDA tested the water at a dairy farm that was close to a US Air Force Base, and this instance demonstrates how pollutants continue to find their way into our bodies. PFA-containing firefighting foams are used in US Air Force sites because of their ability to insulate. According to the FDA, area water samples tested 35 times greater than the current US Environmental Protection Agency health advisory of 70 parts per trillion.” Following this dreadful discovery, 13 farm samples, including the water, animal feed, and five samples of milk, were analyzed. All samples from the dairy farm had PFA levels that were so measurable that the tests were “determined to be a human health concern and all milk from the farm was discarded,” and that test was from just one of the millions of farms in America that provide us with food.

Images of the FDA’s presentation at the meeting were first obtained by the advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund and published by the Environmental Working Group. The agency confirmed that the images were produced by the FDA. The findings are now being presented on a newly updated FDA website about PFAS that is to be released this week. The FDA provided CNN with an advance copy of the website text.

“…due to potential health concerns related to these chemicals,
the FDA is working to better understand the potential dietary
exposure to PFAS,

the website will say.”

Regarding the incident at the dairy farm, the FDA states that even though the animals are no longer consuming contained feed and water, these chemicals will continue to be present in the cow for a time. In fact, a cow will have around 1.5 years’ worth of FDAs in their system after 30 days of exposure to PFAS-contaminated food and water.

“The FDA also analyzed produce samples from farms close to a PFAS manufacturing plant. The produce was sold at local farmer’s markets. According to the FDA, area water wells are known to be contaminated with the PFAS known as GenX. Of the 20 produce samples tested, 16 were leafy greens such as lettuce, cabbage, kale and collard greens. Among those, 15 showed detectable levels of PFAS.”

Although the FDA determined that the tested samples no longer posed a health risk to people, I’m sure we would still like to avoid any PFA levels in food or other products. In 2017, as part of the FDA’s Total Diet Study, which keeps track of about 800 contaminants and nutrients in the typical American diet, 91 food samples were also tested for PFA contamination levels. According to CNN, 10 out of the 91 samples tested positive for PFA contamination, but those samples were not deemed to pose a threat to human health.

“PFOS was voluntarily phased out of production in the United States by 3M, its main manufacturer, starting in 2000. In 2006, PFOA began to be phased out as well. PFOA and PFOS are no longer manufactured or imported in the United States, but similar replacement chemicals like GenX remain. In April of this year, the EPA announced a new PFAS plan, which included setting a maximum containment level for PFOS and PFOA.”

Kounang, Nadia. “FDA Confirms Pfas Chemicals Are in the US Food Supply.” CNN, Cable News Network, 3 June 2019,

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