What are PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances)
PFAS are a broad group of over 4,700 human-made substances. Adverse environmental and health effects have been observed for some well-studied PFAS.
PFAS do not break down easily and remain in the environment for long periods of time. They can accumulate, are mobile, can be transported over long distances and are commonly detected in the environment and humans.
Where are PFAS
PFAS can be found in the environment, including in air, surface and groundwater, oceans and soils, as well as in wastewater, landfill leachate, sewage sludge and contaminated sites. People are exposed to PFAS from many sources: products available to consumers, food and food packaging, cosmetics, indoor and outdoor air, dust, and drinking water.
Remediation and management of PFAS-contaminated sites are very challenging and complex, and the removal of PFAS from the broader environment is not currently possible.
PFAS have some unique properties, such as their ability to repel oil and water, and they do not degrade easily. These have led to their use in a wide range of industrial applications, in certain firefighting foams and in products available to consumers including:
- Non-stick cookware
- Food packaging materials
- Repellents (for dirt, water and grease)
- Textiles (such as carpets, furniture and clothing)
Effects of Concern of PFAS
To human health: effects on the liver, kidney, thyroid, immune system, nervous system, metabolism and bodyweight, and reproduction and development.
To wildlife: effects on the immune and nervous systems, and general effects on growth, reproduction and development.
What is Canada doing?
- Prohibits and is working to further restrict certain PFAS found toxic to the environment, and most products that contain them.
- Considering regulatory and/or non-regulatory actions to minimize releases of PFAS to the environment from firefighting foams.
- Gathering information necessary to identify and prioritize options for reducing environmental and human exposure to PFAS from other sources and products.
- Collaborating with other jurisdictions to discuss science and regulations, and aligning measures where appropriate.
- Conducting regular monitoring and surveillance for the presence of certain PFAS in humans and the environment.
- Developing guidelines for the protection of the environment and human health through drinking water, soil and groundwater.
For more information about what Canada is doing, please visit:
- Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
- Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and your health
The public is able to comment on The Draft State of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Report and Risk Management Scope are available during the 60-day public comment period.
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