Medical researchers at the UAB School of Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama, have discovered that perfluroalkyl substances (PFAS) build up in the brains, hearts, livers, bones and skin of mice. While researchers were previously aware of the fact that PFAS accumulates in the tissues of living organisms, the full extent of this accumulation was not understood. Researchers developed the new way of tracing the chemicals by replacing a single fluorine atom in the compounds with fluorine-18, a radioactive isotop that can be traced through the body using medical imaging techniques.
These results are startling, because two “long-chain” versions of the chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, have been used for years to manufacture products like non-stick cookware, water-resistant clothing, fire fighting foams, and stain-resistant coatings for fabrics. In short, these chemicals are everywhere, and most people have significant exposure to the chemicals (it is believed that PFAS can be found in the bloodstream of nearly every person on Earth thanks to heavy use in manufacturing).
Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new announcement warning that PFOS and PFOA had been linked to adverse health effects at lower concentrations that previously thought harmful. PFOA and PFOS have been linked to higher risk of testicular cancer, kidney cancer, developmental effects to the fetus during pregnancy, liver damage, thyroid effects, and cholesterol changes. While PFOA and PFOS are being phased out of use in favor of short-chain alternative chemicals, most recent studies have called this practice into question since it appears that the short-chain chemicals can be absorbed into bodily organs just as easily.
If you would like more information about these cases, you can contact Grant Cofer, a lawyer in our firm’s Toxic Torts Section. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email at Grant.Cofer@beasleyallen.com.
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