“PFCs” can be an abbreviation for either:
Perfluorinated chemicals is a term that some scientists use to refer to the group of toxic chemicals that includes PFOA and PFOS and other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). Organizations that have used the abbreviation “PFCs”, referring to perfluorinated chemicals, include EPA, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.N. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. EPA is now trying to use “per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)” rather than “perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)” consistently to collectively describe PFOA, PFOS and the other chemicals in this group.
Exposure to PFAS During Military Service
In the 1970s, the Department of Defense began using AFFF to fight fuel fires. The release of these chemicals into the environment during training and emergency responses is a major source of PFAS contamination of ground water on military bases.
Concerns have recently been raised from communities surrounding bases about whether PFAS-contaminated ground water on military bases may be affecting off-base water supplies. The Department of Defense (DoD) is currently conducting an investigation into the extent of PFAS contamination on its bases and is taking several actions to protect against future exposure.
Read more about DoD efforts.
Exposure to PFAS in Drinking Water
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with establishing regulations for the presence of potentially harmful substances in air and drinking water in the US. PFAS are not currently regulated by EPA; however, EPA has several activities underway to learn more about the toxicity of PFAS, designate the family as hazardous substances to initiate clean up, and create drinking water standards where indicated. VA is closely monitoring these activities. Read more about EPA’s efforts.
Health problems that may be associated with PFAS
PFAS can be found throughout the world and most people have been exposed at low levels. According to the EPA, PFAS can be detected in the blood of most people. The likelihood of health problems from PFAS depends on several factors, including the concentration, frequency, and duration of exposure. More research is needed to understand the link between exposure to PFAS and health effects in humans.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR), some studies in humans suggest that certain PFAS may be associated with:
- Fertility issues and pregnancy-induced hypertension/preeclampsia
- Increased cholesterol
- Changes in the immune system
- Increased risk of certain cancers (e.g., testicular and kidney cancer)
- Changes in fetal and child development
- Liver damage
- Increased risk of thyroid disease
- Increased risk of asthma