The Forever Chemicals You Need to Know About

Expert Cited: Dr. Linda Birnbaum

Written by
Brian Leddy
Beginner
Dr linda s birnbaum source gillings school of global public health
Source: Gillings School Of Global Public Health

Ever heard of PFAS? These "forever chemicals" are a group of over 14,000 man-made substances that have been lurking in our environment since the 1950s. 

They're in everything from non-stick cookware to stain-resistant fabrics, and they don't break down naturally. That means they're here to stay, accumulating in our soil, water, air, and even our bodies.

Expert: Dr. Linda S. Birnbaum

Field of Study: Toxicology

Bio: Dr. Linda Birnbaum, a renowned toxicologist, is an expert on the health impacts of environmental chemicals. She served as the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) from 2009-2019, leading federal research on environmental causes of disease. 

From her lecture with the University of Chicago, she discussed the need for all of us to become more aware about PFAS and their impact on our health and the environment.

Consider this your PFAS primer!

Where do PFAS come from?

So, how do these sneaky chemicals get into our systems? We ingest them through food and water, inhale them, and even absorb them through our skin. Once inside, they can stick around for years, potentially wreaking havoc on our health.

Research has linked PFAS exposure to a laundry list of health problems, including:

  • Increased risk of certain cancers (testicular, kidney, liver)
  • Liver damage and high cholesterol
  • Weight gain, obesity, and type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Developmental and reproductive issues

The good news is that the EPA has recently cracked down on PFAS, lowering the acceptable levels in drinking water. 

But many water systems will need to invest in pricey filtration systems to meet these new standards. And while scientists are working on ways to break down PFAS, there's no easy fix for removing them from the environment just yet. 

How to protect yourself from PFAS in your environment

As discussed these things are everywhere, but we shouldn't feel helpless when it comes to mitigating their impact on our health and homes. Here's a few things to consider:

Get informed: Learn about which products contain PFAS and choose alternatives whenever possible.

Ditch the stain-resistant and waterproof labels: These often indicate the presence of PFAS.

Filter your water: Invest in a good water filter to reduce your exposure.

Speak up: Advocate for stricter regulations and more research on PFAS.

The bottom line? PFAS are a serious threat to our health and the environment. By staying informed and taking action, we can protect ourselves and future generations from these "forever chemicals."

Brian Leddy Profile Image
Brian Leddy CEO & Co-Founder, BodyStack (FDN-P)
Certified Functional Diagnostic Practitioner (FDN-P) and owner of Leddy Functional Wellness. Formerly an Adweek Executive and Media Entreprenuer, Brian pivoted his career to focus on inspiring and coaching people from all walks of life to make positive strides in their respective health journeys. Brian is a Co-Founder, and now serves as the CEO of BodyStack.
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