Elizabeth Mitchell received a notice from her commercial property insurance company in April that set off alarm bells. 

Acadia Insurance, the insurer for the market, workspace, and wellness-center nonprofit she runs in West Cornwall, Connecticut, would no longer cover “bodily injury, property damage or personal and advertising injury” from “contact with, exposure to, existence of, or presence of any ‘PFAS.’”

PFAS, as Mitchell soon discovered, is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which appear in everything from clothing to cleaning products to cookware and are linked to a wide range of health risks. Since most of these toxic substances don’t break down and are now found in the blood of people all over the world, they’ve earned the nickname “forever chemicals.”