What’s in a name? Would PFAS, by any other name be as toxic?

Posted on February 15, 2019 by

PFOA, C-8, Gen-X these are all names of chemicals that fall under the Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances group known colloquially as PFAS. PFAS are toxic in low doses, never break down in the environment or our bodies, and they are literally everywhere.

These toxic substances can be found in drinking water all over the country and, as the documentary “The Devil We Know” points out, in the blood of people all over the world. A global blood analysis that came out of the DuPont Teflon scandal showed PFAS in the blood of people from America to China. To learn more about DuPont’s role in PFAS contamination, we recommend watching the documentary “The Devil We Know”.

In case you haven’t heard about this, a small West Virginia community and residents in the Ohio River Valley sued industry giant DuPont for contaminating drinking water with C-8, a PFA substance, used in Teflon, a resin that makes products non-stick, and water and oil repellent. After a 7-year health study, C-8 was found to be linked to 6 different cancers. DuPont agreed to phase out C-8 but admitted they would continue to produce Teflon with a chemical named Gen-X, part of the PFAS family.

To learn more about DuPont’s role in PFAS contamination, we recommend watching the documentary “The Devil We Know”. 

Freshwater Future will be holding a free screening of “The Devil We Know”, to include informational panels, at several locations throughout the Great Lakes Region. More info on our events page.

PFAS needs to be regulated in drinking water. Read Jill Ryan’s, our executive director, op-ed on PFAS that was recently published in the e-book Resilience Matters: Strengthening Communities in an Era of Upheaval, which our readers can download for free here.

Want to know what Freshwater Future is doing about PFAS? Click here to learn more. Read about the recent EPA PFAS Action Plan in our weekly newsletter. Keep up with PFAS policy updates using our PFAS Policy Tracker. Are you on a private well? Get your water tested with our new PFAS water testing service!

Is there an environmental policy or contaminant issue you want to see discussed? Contact our staff policy tracker Izzy Marrah at with tips and questions.


© 2021 Freshwater Future. All Rights Reserved.

Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.