High levels of toxic PFAS chemicals pollute breast milk around the world, IPEN reports

PFAS Pollution across the Middle East and Asia, 2019 IPEN Report

Decades after DuPont and 3M first discovered that the perfluorinated chemicals making them fortunes could be transmitted from mothers to babies, millions of women around the world are passing dangerous amounts of these toxic compounds to their children, according to a new IPEN document, the intercept reports.


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is a large class of more than 4,500 fluorinated chemicals that have received significant public and media attention in Australia, EU, and the US, in part due to their toxicity, extreme persistence, and documented water pollution. However, information about PFAS in other parts of the world is largely lacking and the information which is available is difficult to access.

In 2019, IPEN participating organizations in twelve Middle Eastern and Asian countries conducted surveys to explore possible PFAS uses and pollution sources, scientific studies and government actions, including under the Stockholm Convention. Countries covered include: Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Key Findings

  • PFAS are poorly regulated in all countries examine
  • PFAS substances contaminate adults and infants
  • Water pollution with PFAS substances is widespread
  • Marine and terrestrial organisms are contaminated with PFAS
  • Firefighting foams and extinguishers containing PFAS are in use
  • Consumer products are contaminated with PFAS
  • PFAS substances contaminate dust and particulate air pollution
  • US military bases in Japan cause PFAS pollution
  • Japan is an important PFAS producer
  • PFAS elimination contributes to achievement of the Sustainable
  • Development Goals (SDGs)

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