PFAS Fact Sheet
What is PFAS? Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals.
Why are PFAS important? PFAS are found in a wide range of consumer products that people use daily such as cleaning products, cookware (non-stick coating surface for pans), food packaging, stain repellents and fabric protectors. They are also commonly used in fire retardants such as firefighting foams and sprays.
What is PFOS and PFOA? PFOS and PFOA stand for perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid, respectively. Both are fluorinated organic chemicals, part of a larger family of compounds referred to as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). These substances are synthetic compounds that are unique for being water and lipid resistant. The chemicals PFOA and PFOS were widely used to make carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture, paper packaging for food and other materials that are resistant to water, grease or stains. They were also used for firefighting at airfields and in a number of industrial processes.
Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time.
Is My Water Safe? Yes! The City of Glendale Municipal Water System participated in the federally mandated 3rd Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule Study in 2013-2014. Samples were collected from all water treatment plant finished drinking water sources and drinking water wells that contribute to the water distribution system. Samples were analyzed for PFAS compounds, including PFOA and PFOS. The results showed PFAS concentrations at all sample locations were well below detection levels (PFOS results were less than 40 ppt and PFOA results were less than 20 ppt) and the U.S. EPA’s health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion. Since 2018, the City of Glendale Water Services Department has monitored for PFAS in its drinking water supply on an annual basis and concentrations continue to be below the health advisory limit.
What does PFAS do to you? Can I get cancer? There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans. The most-studied PFAS chemicals are PFOA and PFOS. These chemical compounds have been used in many common products for years, and most people have probably already been exposed to it at very low levels. For detailed health information about PFAS, go to the U.S. EPA's website on PFAS, https://www.epa.gov/pfas, and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/index.html.
What can I do if I have questions about this? Who can I call if I think the water is making me or a family member sick? There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects. If you have questions about PFAS and its potential health impacts, we encourage you to go to the U.S. EPA’s website on PFAS, https://www.epa.gov/pfas, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry webpage on PFAS, https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/index.html. You may also contact the City of Glendale Water Quality Laboratory at 623-930-3897.