How harmful are pfas really for health?

You can read everywhere that PFAs, or polyfluoroalkyl substances, can be found in every corner of the world and enter our bodies through our food, but how bad can it really be?

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (International Agency for Research on Cancer) PFAs can most likely cause cancer. This disease appears to do something to children's immune systems, making vaccines work less well. But those health effects aren't actually very strong. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that there is only “limited evidence” of cancer in humans caused by PFOA, a type of PFAS. For PFOS, there is “insufficient evidence” of cancer.

“It is very difficult to pinpoint the risk,” says Martin van den Berg, De Volkskrant Professor Emeritus of Toxicology at Utrecht University. “There are a lot of reasons to say we should stop using some PFAs.” But he considers it “exaggerated” to believe that we will become ill en masse due to a dose slightly above the threshold value, as is the case in the Netherlands. No real evidence has been found that this is a bad thing.

Only at really, really high doses, as was the case in West Virginia when DuPont released a huge mountain of PFOA into the environment, do kidney cancer, testicular cancer, low birth weight, and high cholesterol seem to occur more often. But then you're talking about doses that are a hundred to a thousand times higher than the threshold value.

At the moment, it seems there is not much to worry about in the Netherlands, but research is difficult because large groups of people must be followed for a long time. A study will be published next year that will provide more clarity on this matter.

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Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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