(WXYZ) – As news spread of PFAS contaminating waterlines in West Michigan, there are new concerns from people living along the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair which tested positive for PFAS in February.
Experts believe foam to put out fires used at Selfridge Air National Guard for training exercises is responsible for the contamination.
What are the effects of PFAS exposure?
This is very disheartening to hear of the high levels of PFAS in those Michigan communities. Now there are studies on perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances that have shown it may affect quite a few things when it comes to health like your immune system. It can also disrupt natural hormones, and increase cholesterol levels and your risk of cancer. Women may have difficulty getting pregnant, and PFAS might affect babies and children when it comes to their behavior, growth, and learning. But I do want to mention that not all of the studies in humans have shown these health effects. And a whole lot more research is needed.
What are PFAS?
They are a group of man-made chemicals, here are some that belong in this group:
perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS)
perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)
perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS)
perfluordecanoic acid (PFDeA)
Is there anything that can be done if you have PFAS in your body?
The way to know if you have PFAS in your body is through a blood test. But those test numbers are not going to tell you much. Because at this point, scientists are unclear as to what those results really indicate and how it relates to health effects. And different levels will affect everyone differently so you can’t predict a potential future health problem based on those numbers. But you do want to avoid repeated exposure as PFAS can build up in your body over time. The good news is that research has shown PFOA levels, one of the chemicals in the PFAS group, will lower every 2-4 years by about half. That is, as long as there is no more exposure to them.
If you have concerns about exposure, what can you say to your doctor to get tested?
I’d say just be honest and tell your doctor you’re concerned and want to be tested. Again, those test numbers don’t indicate you’ll end up with health issues. But if you’ve been exposed to high levels of PFAS, I would recommend you pay extra attention to any unusual symptoms you may experience. And then be very proactive and talk with your doctor about getting health screenings early. And as always, eating right, exercising and removing stress will go a long way when it comes to staying healthy and avoiding disease.
1. Be sure to read product labels. Major manufacturers have strived to phase out production of PFAS by 2015, but some are still in use for products like carpets, non-stick cookware, furniture fabrics, water-resistant clothing, paints, food paper packaging and some cosmetics. If you’re concerned, call the Consumer Product Safety Commission at (800) 638-2772.
2. Besides tap water, you can also be exposed to PFAS in indoor dust and food. Be careful of eating contaminated fish so follow fish advisories regarding waters contaminated with PFAS – you can inquire with your local health department about this.
3. Talk to your doctor about blood testing if high levels of PFAS have been found in your water. Also, ask what signs or symptoms to look out for that could be related to PFAS exposure.
4. If high levels of PFAS are in your drinking water, please don’t drink or cook with it. Use bottled water, or install a PFAS certified In-home water filtration system.
Where can I get more information?
You can contact your community or state health or environmental quality department or:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences
1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop F-57
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO · 888-232-6348 (TTY)
Have questions? Ask Dr Partha Nandi MD Here!
Sign Up to join our growing Health Hero community and have the latest health and wellness research and topics delivered to your inbox weekly. For daily updates, live chats, inspiration, community and more, follow Dr. Nandi on Facebook.
Copyright Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Data pulled from WXYZ.