How can PFAS affect my health?

The main health concerns from ingestion of long-chain PFAS, such as PFOS, PFOA, PFNA, and PFHxS, come from studies in laboratory animals which consistently show effects on the liver and immune system, and on growth, reproduction, and fetal development. PFAS can also affect the endocrine (e.g., thyroid) and hormonal systems and can disturb blood lipids such as cholesterol in lab animals. Studies of human populations exposed to elevated levels of PFOS, PFOA, PFNA, and PFHxS generally support the effects seen in animals. Some studies of populations exposed to PFOA have also shown an increased risk for kidney cancer, and at very high exposure levels, for testicular cancer. Our bodies eliminate these long-chain PFAS very slowly, so they can build up over time with continued exposure. Therefore, even low levels in drinking water may increase your risk of developing a variety of health effects if exposure is long term (months to years). Exposure to PFAS above the Connecticut Drinking Water Action Level does not necessarily mean that health effects will happen. Short-chain PFAS, such as GenX (replacement for PFOA) and perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS, a replacement for PFOS), do not build up in the body over time; however, they have been shown to cause similar health effects in laboratory animals as their predecessors.

PFAS are not readily absorbed by your skin, so bathing, showering, swimming, and washing dishes in water containing PFAS is not a significant source of exposure.

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1. What are these chemicals and where do they come from?
2. What is the current Connecticut DPH drinking water Action Level for PFAS and how was it developed?
3. How do these chemicals get into drinking water?
4. There are thousands of PFAS chemicals. Why has CT only derived drinking water action levels for four of them?
5. If I have PFAS in my water, what precautions should I be taking for my pets, farm animals, home grown produce, and irrigation of my garden?
6. Can I remove PFAS by boiling my water?
7. I am a customer of a public water system. How can I find out if my water has been tested for PFAS?
8. How do I know if bottled water is safe?
9. How can PFAS affect my health?
10. Why have states set different acceptable levels for PFAS in drinking water?
11. Should I test my blood for PFAS?
12. How can I limit my overall exposure to PFAS?
13. I have a well, should I test the water for PFAS? How can I test my well for PFAS?
14. How does the State decide which wells are going to be tested for PFAS?
15. What happens if there are PFAS in my well?
16. Does the home water treatment system I have work to remove PFAS? What types of treatment address PFAS in drinking water?
17. What type of water treatment system will be installed if my PFAS levels exceed the Connecticut Action Levels? Who will maintain my treatment system, and how often?
18. CT DPH Contacts and Resources
19. External Resources