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In recent months, the State of Michigan has found several places where drinking water and fish are contaminated by a class of chemicals called PFAS, or poly and perfluoroalkyl substances.PFAS is a family of chemicals that can be found in all sorts of products. But what are the lingering effects of PFAS on our health and the environment?

Home Depot plans to phase out selling rugs and carpets containing PFAS

Andrei / Adobe Stock

The Home Depot announced Tuesday that it will stop buying from its suppliers any rugs and carpets that contain PFAS chemicals.

"Excluding PFAS from the carpets and rugs we sell is another example of our shared commitment to building a better future for our customers and the planet," Ron Jarvis, The Home Depot's vice president for environmental innovation, said in a written statement.

A company spokesperson said she could not speculate on how long it will take for rugs and carpets that contain PFAS to cycle out of inventory.

Environmental groups have applauded The Home Depot's move.

"Home Depot's action is critically important because of the impact it can have on the market place for sending the message that we want to eliminate PFAS from consumer products," said Jeff Gearhart, research director of  The Ecology Center, a Michigan-based environmental group.

Gearhart said PFAS chemicals don't only show up in drinking water, but they are also released from consumer products into dust and air.

"We know that PFAS has well-known health impacts," said Gearhart. "We know it shows up in dust and air in homes. And we think getting it out of carpet is a very important first step."

Gearhart said exposure to PFAS chemicals has been linked to health problems, including cancer and immune system disorders.

He said PFAS is used for stain resistance in carpets.

Gearhart said companies need to evaluate the safety of alternatives to PFAS.

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