What are PFOAs?

There’s a lot of talk in the local news about per-flouro-octanoic acid or PFOA in some Bennington County and upstate NY wells. What is PFOA and its half dozen or more cousins? Is it harmful, should you be concerned and what can be done about it? Here’s the abbreviated version:

PFOA is the shiny nonstick surface found on candy wrappers, waxed food service papers, microwaved popcorn, carpets, treated textiles, floor wax and dental floss. Teflon is one of its many cousins that can and will break down into PFOA over time. In fact there are 615 compounds known to break down into PFOA. It is primarily Fluorine, an element humans need in amounts that are measured in parts per million rather than in macro dosages. Your teeth which are mostly calcium and phosphorus need about 5 parts per million of fluorine to stay strong; basically an invisible amount undetectable without specialized instrumentation.

PFOA is one of those invisible chemicals found throughout our civilization, influencing our health without our knowledge or a complete understanding of its impacts. It would take about six years to naturally eliminate the PFOAs in your body right now; assuming you could end all contact with them from this breath onward. Highly unlikely given their dispersion throughout the entire planetary ecosystem. PFOAs bio-accumulate in our bodies faster than we can get rid of them. Not cool. This is the part that really ticks me off. PFOA upside is that your cheap candy bar won’t stick to its wrapper. Downside is it takes six years to pass out the molecules that stuck to your chocolate bar and got eaten in the process. PFOAS are measured in the blood in parts per billion. We are not talking about a lot having a big effect here.

According to Wikipedia,” PFOA is a carcinogen, a liver toxicant, a developmental toxicant, and an immune system toxicant, and also exerts hormonal effects including alteration of thyroid hormone levels. Animal studies show developmental toxicity from reduced birth size, physical developmental delays, endocrine disruption, and neonatal mortality”.

Good news is that a carbon filter appears to work well in removing PFOAs from your water. Bad news is that these puppies are literally everywhere on the planet now. Thanks 3M! Thank you Dow!

But the real crux of the biscuit is that there even exists a mindset that allows novel persistent chemicals to be introduced in mind boggling quantities in the first place, AND then disperses those molecules throughout the planet. All this without any long term understanding of their influence upon living systems.

This, in my humble opinion is the definition of complete and utter madness, a dementia that crosses all national borders and appears to be both unending and inexorable in its scope and influence. THIS IS a true evil among us.

The emperor is naked and winter is coming. Time to wake up and smell the molecules.

All the Best,