"Forever chemicals," known scientifically as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are durable man-made chemicals used in a variety of consumer and industrial products. These chemicals, notable for their ability to resist heat, water, and oil, are found in non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics, and some cosmetics. PFAS are called "forever chemicals" due to their persistence in the environment and the human body, where they do not break down and can accumulate over time.
The health implications of PFAS exposure include hormone disruption, immune system effects, elevated cholesterol, and an increased risk of certain cancers. Their widespread presence in the environment, detectable even in human and animal blood, has raised significant global health and environmental concerns.
In a similar context, lead, a naturally occurring heavy metal, poses serious health risks. Historically used in paint, gasoline, and plumbing, lead exposure can cause developmental delays in children and cardiovascular issues in adults. Despite reduced use and regulatory bans, lead remains a concern in older infrastructures and polluted areas.
Both PFAS and lead exemplify the challenges in managing substances that persist in the environment and bioaccumulate. Their presence underscores the need for stringent regulations and proactive measures to mitigate long-term health and ecological impacts.