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PFAS information

What are Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)?

(PFAS) are a large group of human made chemicals that are resistant to heat, water, and oil. These chemicals have been used for decades in many industrial applications and consumer products such as carpeting, waterproofing clothing, upholstery, food paper wrappings, personal care products, firefighting foams and metal plating. PFAS have been found at low levels both in the environment and in blood samples of the general U.S. population.


How people are exposed to PFAS and why are they harmful?

The main way that people are exposed to PFAS is by drinking water or eating food containing them.  PFAS chemicals do not easily absorb into the skin so contact with water that contains PFAS poses very low health risk.

A large number of studies among people have examined possible relationships between levels of PFAS in blood and health effects. This research suggests that high levels of certain PFAS may increase cholesterol levels, decrease how well the body responds to vaccines and reduce fertility in women. Some other studies have indicated that high levels of certain PFAS may increase the risk of Thyroid disease, increase the risk of serious conditions like high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, and lower infant birth weights.


How do PFAS get into drinking water?

PFAS can get into drinking water when products containing them are used or spilled onto the ground or into lakes or rivers. PFAS can also get into the environment from manufacturing and disposal. PFAS move easily through the ground getting into groundwater that is used for some water supplies. PFAS in the air can also end up in waterbodies used for drinking water.


Want to know more about PFAS and their effects?

· For general questions about PFAS please visit Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website:

· For health related questions please visit Department of Health Services website:

· For specific health questions, individuals can contact DHS staff via email at or call 608-266-1120.

· Wisconsin's Community Response to PFAS in Drinking Water

·  All the stuff in your house that may contain PFAS.