A word first about per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). We are told that they are everywhere and potentially harmful in high concentrations. Where do they come from? They are human-made chemicals found in a wide range of consumer products and in industry. As I understand it, they were created in the 1940s in America and prehaps in other Western countries but I am not sure about that. PFAS are resistant to grease, oil, water and heat which is why they have been used in a range of applications such as water resistant fabrics, carpeting, paints, firefighting foams and cleaning products. They were authorised by the FDA for limited use in food packaging and processing and in cookware.
So they been around a long time and they are ubiquitous in the home and in industry. This is why they are now found inside domestic cats. The website vice.com reports on this. They report that scientists have found PFAS in domestic cats and dogs. Because they are so persistent in the environment and inside people and our companion animals they are described as “forever chemicals”.
Research took place at the New York State Department Of Health. They tested the faeces of dogs and cats. They were looking for 15 different kinds of PFAS. They discovered “measurable traces” of 13 of these chemicals. The quantities of PFAS inside the faeces indicated that the companion animals had been exposed to these chemicals at levels above the accepted minima for humans. This means that cats and dogs have been exposed to levels of these chemicals above the provisional minimum risk level recommended to humans. The researchers concluded that there had been widespread exposure of pets to PFAS.
The findings were published on February 5 in the Journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters. This is an American Chemical Society publication. The reason why these chemicals are very enduring in the environment is because they are made up of long chains of carbon atoms bonded to fluorine atoms. This creates a carbon-flourine bond which does not degrade in the environment.
Studies of PFAS tell us that in high concentrations they can increase the risk of cancer, interfere with the immune system and with hormones. The chemicals can have toxic effects on the livers, brains and genes of animals. The study could not decide how the cats and dogs have been exposed to PFAS. They do state that the chemicals can be taken into the body by ingesting them, inhaling them or touching them. PFAS then concentrate in the kidneys, liver and blood.
Comment: this is another warning about the potential toxicity of the household environment for our companion animals. Chemicals are invisible hazards. I have written extensively about hazards in the home, nearly all of them chemicals, which can affect the health of cats and dogs. I have tagged all these articles ‘toxic to cats’ and ‘dangers to cats’. If you want to read them please search for these tags. You can find the tags at the base of this article. Just click on the link and you will be taken to a list of articles.
There are several idiopathic (unknown reasons for) diseases and illnesses suffered by domestic cats. I would suggest that more research needs to be carried out on whether humane-made chemicals used in consumer products are the source of these illnesses. There no reports coming out which tell me that something is being done about these hazards.
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