How the Chemical PFAS is Affecting Women

October 12, 2020 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
How the Chemical PFAS is Affecting Women

Women and PFAS 

PFAS, or per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are man-made chemicals that have been used in various products and applications since the 1940s. Though these chemicals are used in items such as food packaging, non-stick pans, carpets, and firefighting foam because of their fire-resistant properties, they are actually quite dangerous.

Though these chemicals have been studied more recently, the studies are often focused on men and how they are affected by these “forever chemicals”. This is because men are usually the ones most often associated with it since they are the ones working in factories or as firemen where PFAS is found in firefighting foam. 

Women, however, are also at risk for suffering from the detrimental side effects of PFAS. The chemicals from these factories that are dumped inappropriately and from firefighting foam, make their way into the groundwater and drinking water, causing many people to be at risk. 

[Female Firefighters Face Higher Exposure to Carcinogens From PFAS]

What Makes PFAS Dangerous?

PFAS is so dangerous because of its longevity and how easily it can build up in the environment as well as in our bodies. These chemical substances are known as the “forever chemicals” because of the estimation that it will easily take over 100 years for the chemicals to break down.

New studies that focused on women have brought a new insight as to how exactly they are affected by these substances. During a 17-year-long study, researchers found that those women that had PFAS in their blood would reach menopause two years earlier than those that had lower levels. While two years might not seem like too long, even that amount of time can affect the health of women.

The other study that was done in the east Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area relied on 48,000 birth records spanning from 2002-2011. These areas were found to have levels of PFAS that were beyond the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's guidelines or found to have no detectable levels of the substances. In 2006, a water filtration system that was installed in Oakdale, MN caused a steep decline in PFAS exposure which created what is called a “natural experiment”. A natural experiment is used when a controlled experiment is not possible because the exposure of interest is unable to be tested ethically or practically. 

What Else Did the PFAS Studies Find?

The average weight at birth and the gestation age of those babies born in the area with high contamination was statistically significantly lower than those born outside of that area.

The fertility rate was also statistically significantly lower in the area of high contamination.

In Oakdale, birth rates had an average of 29 grams lower than the communities neighboring it that were not affected by the chemicals. The finding also reported that the babies born in the highest area of PFAS exposure in Oakdale were 45% more likely to be born prior to 32 weeks. 

PFAS Exposure While Pregnant

A woman in Petersburgh, which is a neighboring town of Hoosick Falls, New York, learned firsthand just how detrimental these “forever chemicals” can be. The last thing Emily Marpe expected was a call from their state's health department telling the family to immediately stop using their tap water.

The department found the PFOA to be 2.1 parts per billion in the water which was over five times the Environmental Protection Agency's guideline. This means that her well had tested higher than the village of Hoosick Falls, which in 2014 had been found to be highly contaminated. 

During this time Marpe realized she was pregnant and started to fear for the health and safety of her unborn child. Though she felt guilt about possibly bringing a child into this world that could have birth defects because of these disastrous chemicals which can disrupt the regulation of sugar and fat metabolism, Marpe went through with her pregnancy. Two years after Marpe had stopped drinking the contaminated water, when her daughter was tested at 7 weeks old, the PFOA in her blood was 75.9 parts per billion, higher than many from Hoosick Falls. Though she had previously breastfed her two other children, knowing that PFAS can be transferred through breast milk, she decided against doing so with her new daughter.

Other Harmful Side Effects from PFAS Exposure

Aside from possible low birth weight, early-term births, and early menopause, there are many other severe health problems these chemicals can give you. Listed below are other health issues that have been linked to PFAS exposure:

  • Testicular cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Kidney (renal) cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Thyroid Disease

Where Can PFAS Be Found and How Can I Protect Myself

PFAS is found in a variety of products as well as in the soil and groundwater. These chemicals are not easily broken down and will last longer than many of us. The following are a few ways you can be exposed to these chemicals:

  • Children crawling on carpets made with PFAS
  • Fast-food packaging
  • Non-stick pans
  • Fire-fighting foam
  • Tainted seafood from water contamination
  • Water-resistant clothing

A few ways you can lower your exposure to PFAS:

  • Eating home-cooked meals
  • Replacing carpeting/furniture that was made with PFAS
  • If your water is contaminated, use a different source for cooking, brushing your teeth, etc.

Lawsuits Over PFAS Exposure

There are many towns all over the US suffering from extremely dangerous water levels because of these chemicals. Having been used in firefighting foam by the military since the 60s, this chemical has made its way into the ground and our water systems. Companies such as DuPont and 3M knew about the dangers of these substances and continued to sell these substances with no regard for how it would affect people's wellbeing.

There have been many lawsuits filed against companies such as these. If you or someone you know has developed cancer or another serious illness because of a company's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation by filing a product liability lawsuit.

Seeking an Experienced Product Liability Attorney

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has been assisting those that have suffered at the hands of negligent companies for years by representing injured plaintiffs in product liability lawsuits. Do not hesitate to contact our Clearwater office about your case. We offer free consultations to those that have found themselves in this terrible situation. Our attorneys can assist you in building your case, calculating the damages you have suffered, negotiating settlements, and representing you at trial if need be. The lawyers of Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA will walk you through every step of the process and maintain close communication with you regarding your case's progress. We provide the resources and experience of a larger law firm while also giving each case the personal touch and investment one would expect from a smaller firm.

Call us for a free consultation today at (727) 451-6900 or fill out a contact form online.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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