Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

PFAS are a family of human-made chemicals that have been widely used for decades. PFAS are extremely stable and do not breakdown in the environment. PFAS have been found in the groundwater and surface water in Minnesota. Some PFAS can build up and stay in the human body for many years. They can also slowly decline if the exposure stops.

PFAS are emerging contaminants. Emerging contaminants are contaminants about which we have a new awareness or understanding about how they move in the environment or affect public health. PFAS, like other emerging contaminants, are the focus of active research and study, which means that new information is released frequently.

PFAS are commonly used for their water- and grease-resistant properties. People can be exposed through the following:

  • Drinking contaminated municipal water or private well water
  • Eating fish caught from water contaminated by PFAS (PFOS, in particular)
  • Accidentally swallowing contaminated soil or dust
  • Eating food grown or raised near places that used or made PFAS
  • Eating food packaged in material that contains PFAS
  • Using some consumer products treated with PFAS such as stain resistant carpeting and water repellent clothing

People are exposed to PFAS primarily through drinking beverages or eating food made with contaminated water and exposure to PFAS in dust or consumer products. Exposures that are expected to be minor include 1) exposure through skin contact because absorption through skin is low and 2) exposure through breathing in fine water droplets is expected to be infrequent, short, and involve small amount.

Stress at Contaminated Sites: Coping with the stress that environmental contamination can cause (PDF)

  • PFAS Sites in Minnesota

  • The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) have investigated a number sites across the state where PFAS were released to the environment.
  • PFAS and Fish

  • Advice about eating fish from lakes and rivers where fish have been tested and contaminant levels in some fish species are higher.
  • PFAS and Health

  • Information about health risks of exposure to PFAS, health-based guidance for PFAS in water and air, and how to lower your exposure to PFAS.
  • PFAS and Home Treatment of Water

  • If you have concerns about your health, you can take steps to reduce your potential exposure to PFAS from drinking water in your home.

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Updated Tuesday, 13-Sep-2022 11:12:01 CDT