Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are chemicals that were commonly used to make carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture, paper packaging for food and other materials that are resistant to water, grease or stains. They were also used for firefighting at airfields and in a number of industrial processes. Most people have been exposed to these chemicals through consumer products, but drinking water can be an additional source of exposure in communities where these chemicals have entered water supplies.
Between 2000 and 2002, PFOS was voluntarily phased out of production in the U.S. by its primary manufacturer. In 2006, eight major companies voluntarily agreed to phase out their global production of PFOA and PFOA-related chemicals, although there are a limited number of ongoing uses. Scientists have found PFOA and PFOS in the blood of nearly all the people they tested, but these studies show that the levels of PFOA and PFOS in blood have been decreasing.* PFOA and PFOS are two chemicals from a larger family of Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Newer PFAS compounds have been introduced by industry as replacements for PFOA and PFOS.*
* Source: EPA Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFOA and PFOS