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PFAS chemicals: health effects and legal implications

On Behalf of | Aug 4, 2023 | Environmental Law

When it comes to small businesses, there is more than meets the eye – and the lurking dangers of PFAS chemicals are no exception. Even seemingly insignificant levels of PFAS exposure can gradually pose serious risks to your health.

What is PFAS?

PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) are a group of manmade chemicals found in items like:

  • Firefighting foams
  • Stain-resistant fabrics
  • Nonstick cookware
  • Food packaging

These chemicals are known for their persistence in the environment and the human body. They have raised concerns due to potential health effects. Studies have linked PFAS exposure to:

  • Kidney and testicular cancer
  • Thyroid problems
  • Decreased fertility
  • Unwelcome changes in cholesterol levels

These findings apply to regular individuals. Just think about the impact it could have on employees. Their work conditions consistently exposed them to these chemicals more than an average person.

Occupational hazards

Small businesses relying on private wells or operating near industrial sites could be at the mercy of contaminated water sources. If you are in the food industry, be on guard, as PFAS might sneak from packaging materials right into your products.

But it does not end there. Your employees might be at risk too. Those involved in producing or applying products containing PFAS could face increased exposure.

Releasing PFAS into the environment can also wreak havoc on ecosystems. This does not only spell trouble for small businesses heavily reliant on natural resources. Long-term consequences can be dire, threatening the very foundation of your operations.

Legal and financial implications

The increasing awareness of PFAS health risks is drawing attention to the serious legal and financial threats that businesses may face. There is always the possibility of being involved in costly legal battles. Additionally, regulatory authorities may impose substantial fines on those deemed responsible. This can push a business’ financial stability to a critical point.

Beyond these tangible challenges, there are also intangible dangers such as leading your business reputation susceptible to irreparable damage. Trust among customers, investors and partners could also crumble in an instant.

As a small business owner, you work hard to build and maintain your company’s success. Being aware of the dangers posed by PFAS is your first line of defense against unwanted legal and financial repercussions.