What Is PFOA (Perfluorooactanoic Acid)?
PFOA (Perfluorooactanoic acid) is a highly fluorinated compound with low surface tension, making it an effective chemical to help make products non-stick, water resistant, and stain resistant.
PFOA has been used to make PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) and can be found at contaminant levels in products containing PTFE, such as Gore-Tex®, Teflon®, and anti-aging cosmetics.
A 2019 study has also found PFOA in dental floss materials. Another found higher levels of PFOA, and other PFAS compounds, in blood samples after people ate at fast food restaurants, or consumed either pizza or microwave popcorn at home. Because PFOA is persistent in the environment (it does not break down), it is a common contaminant in drinking water.
PFOA is also found in indoor dust, especially in newly renovated buildings or homes with new upholstered furniture or carpeting.PFOA is very stable and bioaccumulates in the blood and tissues, such as the lungs and kidneys, in people and animals.
Increased intake of PFOA through breastfeeding decreased the diversity of infants’ gut microbiome, a factor associated with increased risk for developing breast cancer in adults. Higher exposure to PFOA in early childhood was associated with decreased Body Mass Index, HDL-cholesterol levels (thought of as “bad” cholesterol), and borderline insulin resistance in 6-8-year-old girls.
Both the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have designated PFOA as a potential human carcinogen. In addition, there have been several findings that exposure to PFOA could be associated with endocrine (hormone) disruption and an increased risk of developing breast cancer.