What are the health effects of PFAS?

Although PFAS have been used extensively since the 1950s, experts are only beginning to understand their potential impacts on human health. This understanding continues to evolve based on ongoing research. Two of the most studied PFAS chemicals are perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA). Current studies suggest that exposure to high levels of PFOS and PFOA may:

  • increase cholesterol;
  • decrease antibody response;
  • decrease fertility in women;
  • increase the risk of certain types of cancer; and
  • increase the risk of thyroid diseases.


Scientists are still learning about the health effects from exposures to mixtures of PFAS. For more information, visit the CDC's PFAS and Your Health website and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) PFAS webpage.

Show All Answers

1. What are PFAS?
2. Are PFAS regulated by the federal or state government?
3. I keep hearing different numbers referenced for Wisconsin’s PFOA and PFOS drinking water advisories. What does this mean for me, and how do I keep my family safe?
4. What are the health effects of PFAS?
5. How are we exposed to PFAS?
6. How can I reduce my exposure?
7. Should I be worried about dermal (skin) exposure to PFAS?
8. Can I use my tap water for typical household activities?
9. How can I safely feed an infant?
10. Can a medical test show whether I’ve been exposed to PFAS?
11. What is the average amount of PFAS in a person's blood?
12. Who can I contact about health questions related to PFAS?
13. Other Resources for PFAS Information