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PFOS and PFOA Water Contamination

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perflurooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are two man-made chemicals used in the manufacture of common household products that are being detected in drinking water supplies across the country. Exposure to these products has been shown to cause significant health and developmental problems in humans, such as infertility, immune system deficiency, cancer, liver and kidney disease, low birth weight, fetal developmental delays, high cholesterol levels, heart disease, and cognitive developmental problems in children.

Where are PFOS and PFOA Found in the Environment?

PFOS and PFOA contaminate the air, water, and soil surrounding manufacturing plants and facilities that produce products using these chemicals. PFOA is manufactured by DuPont and used in Teflon, non-stick coatings, cleaning supplies, food containers, and waterproofing materials. PFOS is manufactured by the 3M Company and was commonly used in the production of fire-fighting foam commonly used by professional firefighters. Secondary contamination has also been found in the air, water, and soil samples in manufacturing plants that make other products containing these chemicals. Both substances are odorless and colorless, and their presence can only be detected through specialized testing procedures.

What makes these chemicals even more problematic is the fact that they remain stable in the environment. While many chemicals respond to decomposition methods, PFOS and PFOA resist these methods and can remain constant for long periods of time. Fish in local lakes, rivers, and bays, and wildlife animals such as deer, have shown high levels of PFOS and PFOA, which further expands health risks to the general public.

While the most highly concentrated levels of PFOS and PFOA are found in areas closest to manufacturing facilities, the contamination of soil, water, and air have been found to exist in areas as far away as the Arctic caps, in oceans, marine animals, and in some of the most remote land animal habitats around the world.

PFOA and PFOS can also be found in many household cooking and cleaning products, including:

  • Leather products
  • Pesticides
  • Adhesives
  • Paint
  • Wax
  • Stain resistant coatings on clothing and furniture
  • Carpet and upholstery
  • Heat-resistant tape
  • Non-stick cooking pans
  • Household cleaning solutions

How Does PFOA and PFOS Affect Human Health?

PFOA and PFOS contaminants are found in drinking water, the air quality, food preparation products, fish, meat, dairy products, and in fruits and vegetables cultivated in contaminated soil. The presence of these chemicals is commonly detected in human blood, liver, and kidney tissue, and can remain in the tissue for two to nine years.

The most common health problems that relate to exposure to PFOA and PFOS include:

  • Increased liver enzymes and liver disease
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Kidney and testicular cancer
  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia
  • Fetal developmental problems
  • Low infant birth weight
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Immunodeficiency
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Cognitive and developmental delays in children

PFOA and PFOS are not broken down by normal digestive processes in humans; therefore, they adhere to body tissue and remain for long periods of time. This long dormancy period raises the potential for serious health complications.

Federal Regulation and Toxic Tort Lawsuits

Federal regulation of PFOA and PFOS does not currently exist in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has committed to studying the presence and dangers associated with exposure to these chemicals and intends to develop regulations for their use and containment. Individual states are presently responsible for regulating PFOA and PFOS, but the lack of federal policies and standards are of great concern to environmental safety and health officials.

Victims of exposure to these toxins can hold those responsible liable for their injuries through a toxic tort lawsuit. Various class action lawsuits have already been filed against the manufacturers and distributors of PFOA and PFOS chemicals. More lawsuits are expected as testing expands and exposes the level of contamination present in our nation.

Delaware Environmental Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Help Victims of Toxic Chemical Exposure Claim Compensation

If you or someone you know has been injured by exposure to PFOA, PFOS, or other toxic chemicals, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the Delaware environmental lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. at 302-656-5445, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Our Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware offices serve clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.


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