PFAS: Do We Really Know What We’re Doing?

posted in: Blog, Science | 0
black spatula on black frying pan

PFAS–also known as “Forever Chemicals”–are used in products that provide convenience and solve problems in our daily lives. But per this article, they also create health risks that we’ve endured for many years, and are now believed to be worse than originally thought.

All of which leads to my main question: Do we really know what we’re doing?

Our technology has grown in leaps and bounds with logarithmic intensity. Can you imagine the world I grew up with where there is no internet, no video games (Atari’s first system came out in my teens), phones had dials instead of push buttons, and you had to actually get your butt off the couch and over to the TV dial to change the channel?

When the first people discovered how to make fire, did they consider what smoke inhalation in a small cave could do? When the wheel was invented did they have the slightest notion that one day there would be vehicles traveling fast enough to shatter bones in a crash?

My examples are extreme. There are fundamental inventions that drastically changed how we evolve and face the harshness of reality. Can we honestly say a non-stick pan is one of them? We invent solutions to problems we didn’t know we had and consider ourselves better off but at the same time those inventions are literally killing us. Remember when they realized that Teflon fumes kill birds, although they are harmless to humans? I have to wonder if that is totally true or if they didn’t want to crush economic success with something as insignificant as our health.

Without crossing over to conspiracy theory land let’s put it down to simple ignorance. We invent things without fully understanding what effect our interactions with these things can do to us, our environment, or nature in general.

I’m not sure what the solution is here except to increase the testing that takes place when chemicals are released to market. I’m sure grateful I don’t have to scrub that pan after cooking up some cheesy eggs. But we trust the system to look out for our best interests without having any clue what a failure to do so actually means. There are PFAS in dental floss, for heaven’s sake. Can such an innocent application really be worrisome, even over many years?

I certainly don’t have the answer, but the starting point here is to start asking the questions and not blindly embrace new technologies that may solve an agonizing problem without first understanding the true cost of the solution.

What do you think? Please comment below.

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