Perfluorinated compounds are a family of human-made substances that do not occur naturally in the environment. They have been used for decades as an ingredient to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water. They also are used in various products including firefighting foams, coating additives, and surface protection products for carpets and clothing. Perfluorinated compounds can also be found in certain types of food packaging, dental floss and cosmetic products.
The main way people come into contact with perfuorinated compounds is through food and personal care products. In fact, human contact with perfuorinated compounds is widespread, and nearly all people have measureable levels in their blood.
Why are we talking about perfluorinated compounds?
When perfluorinated compounds are released into the environment, they can enter rivers and underground aquifers that may be used as drinking water sources. In 2013 and 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency required large public water systems across the country to collect samples as part of the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UMCR).
The UMCR is a routine program that gathers data to determine locations and amounts of unregulated substances in drinking water sources. EPA monitors many substances to find out if they should be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Through this national monitoring program, perfluorinated compounds were found in 108 U.S. water supply sources. On May 19, 2016 the EPA issued a new health advisory for PFCs.