Forever chemicals, also known as PFAS (poly-fluoroalkyl substances)
They are a group of synthetic chemicals that are used in a variety of industrial and consumer products. They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down easily and can accumulate in the environment and in the human body over time. Studies have shown that exposure to these can have negative impacts on human health, including unhealthy blood lipid levels, pregnancy complications, and cancer.
What are some common products that contain PFAS?
They can be found in many products such as grease-resistant paper and other fast-food wrappers or containers, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, candy wrappers, plastic water bottles, nonstick cookware, cleaning products, stain-resistant coatings for carpets or upholstery, stain-resistant and water-resistant clothing and drinking water.
What are the health risks of PFAS?
PFAS exposure has been linked to an increased risk of health conditions such as raised cholesterol levels, kidney, prostate, and testicular cancer, asthma, decreased fertility, or increased high blood pressure in pregnant women. Studies of laboratory animals given large amounts of these indicate that some of these may affect growth and development. In addition, these animal studies indicate these may affect reproduction, thyroid function, and the immune system, and injure the liver.
Some ways to reduce your exposure to PFAS:
- Use a water filter that is certified to remove them.
- Avoid using non-stick cookware.
- Avoid using stain-resistant or water-resistant clothing.
- Avoid using stain-resistant coatings for carpets or upholstery.
- Avoid using cleaning products that contain them.
- Avoid using personal care products that contain them.
How do I know if a product contains PFAS?
It can be difficult to know if a product contains PFAS because manufacturers are not required to list them on the label. However, you can check the product’s ingredients list for any mention of “fluoro” or “perfluoro” compounds
Image credit:European Environment Agency (original image)Mrmw (vectorization), CC BY 2.5 DK, via Wikimedia Commons