Equilibrium & Sustainability

What products to look out for in your home that might include ‘forever chemicals’

‘Forever chemicals,’ substances known to linger in the human body that have been linked to kidney cancer, thyroid disease and other illnesses, are increasingly in the spotlight for their potential ill health effects.

Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been present in the nation’s waterways, soil and products for decades, but are also gaining attention because of products at home that might contain the pervasive — and often evasive — chemicals.

While the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) says that exposure to PFOA and PFOS from consumer products is low in comparison to exposure from contaminated drinking water, the agency does provide a list of some products that may contain PFAS. 

The Environmental Working Group, Toxic-Free Future and other environmental health organizations offer their own lists, as does 3M, which manufactures a number of medical and industrial materials that contain PFAS.  

Here’s a list of some household products that often contain PFAS.

·       Grease-resistant paper, wrappers and containers for fast food and bakery goods, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, and candy wrappers 

·       Contaminated fish

·       Nonstick cookware 

·       Stain resistant coatings used on carpets, upholstery and other fabrics 

·       Water- and stain-repellent apparel and waterproof outdoor gear 

·       Cleaning products 

·       Personal care products (shampoo, dental floss) and cosmetics (nail polish, eye makeup) 

·       Paints, varnishes, and sealants 

·       Ski wax, automotive applications 

·       Medical devices like vascular grafts, stent grafts, surgical meshes, catheter tubes and heart patches 

A recent study from Duke University also revealed that anti-fogging sprays marketed to bespectacled mask-wearers also contain certain types of PFAS, as previously reported by The Hill.

Meanwhile, ATSDR warns that infants can be exposed to PFAS by consuming contaminated breastmilk, but that nursing mothers should continue to breastfeed regardless. 

“Based on current science, the benefits of breastfeeding appear to outweigh the risks for infants exposed to PFAS in breast milk,” a statement from ATSDR says. 


Tags forever chemicals PFAS

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