March 2, 2021
“Forever Chemicals” in Arizona: Why the State Should be Concerned About PFAS and What to Do About it
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) are a class of man-made chemicals that have been manufactured and used around the globe since their invention in the 1940’s. Due to their flurosurfactant properties, PFAS are an important substance in reducing surface friction. Commercial applications for PFAS include manufacturing stain repellant clothing, food packaging, and nonstick cookware. In addition, PFAS is an important ingredient in firefighting foam, otherwise known as aqueous film-forming foam (“AFFF”). AFFFs were introduced in the 1960’s through a partnership with the 3M company and the Navy to be used for firefighting on military bases.
The widespread use of PFAS around the globe is cause for environmental concern because the perfluorocarbon molecules do not degrade in the natural environment. It is because of their persistence that PFAS have been called “forever chemicals.” PFAS are also highly mobile in water, soil, and air, and tend to bioaccumulate in plants and animal products.