PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of more than 4,700 synthetic chemicals created to repel water, oil, grease and stains. The chemicals, dating to the 1940s and nearly indestructible over time, appear in a range of industrial and everyday consumer products, including makeup, food wrappers, nonstick cookware, carpets, stain repellants, and firefighting foams.
Because PFAS have been so widely used, most Americans have been exposed to them.
People ingest PFAS by eating, drinking or breathing the chemicals when they are present in food, water, fire retardants, and consumer and industrial products. Based on research cited by the California State Water Resources Control Board, most people are exposed to PFAS through food – via food packaging, farming processes, or bioaccumulation (gradual chemical buildup).
Over time, PFAS also have accumulated in land near airports, industrial sites, military bases, and landfills. Once PFAS leach into the land, the chemicals can, in some cases, seep into groundwater.
Testing has confirmed that Western’s drinking water, most of which is imported Northern California snowmelt, is safe and does not contain PFAS above notification levels.