Here’s a thing: “forever chemicals” lurk in almost everything, from the food we eat to the air we breathe. These poisonous compounds, known as PFAS per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are most commonly used to make items resistant to water and grease.
Due to their widespread use, all Americans have PFAS in their bodies. Exposure to PFAS is associated with a host of health issues, as revealed by a large number of studies. In a recent finding, California researchers have linked PFAS exposure during the prenatal period to maternal and child health harms.
Now, the question is: is it possible to reduce your exposure to PFAS? Totally, yes, and this guide discusses just that.
PFAS: An Overview
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PFAS, or per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are man-made chemicals famous for their capacity to stay in nature as well as the body for years. This class of over 4,000 chemicals is used in consumer and industry goods.
The chemical makeup of these substances varies. But experts believe that they can stick around for decades, even centuries, without degrading. This stubborn nature of PFAS makes them incredibly useful. Bags of microwave popcorn, pizza boxes, cosmetics, outdoor gear, carpeting, and cookware are items in which PFAS are used.
A retrospective study by BMC reveals that PFAS are endocrine-disrupting chemicals. They are linked with cancer development, such as thyroid tumors, pancreatic and hepatocellular carcinoma, and kidney and testicular cancers.
In light of this, the AFFF lawsuit deserves mention. A growing pool of studies in the past decade discovered a link between AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam) exposure and testicular, prostate, and kidney cancers. Due to the presence of PFAS in firefighting foam, many firefighters developed cancer.
Ultimately, AFFF exposure victims filed lawsuits against the manufacturer. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue that manufacturers were aware of the risk associated with the use of PFAS-containing AFFF products, but failed to warn them, writes TorHoerman Law.
On average, the AFFF lawsuit settlement amounts range between $40,000 and $300,000.
4 Simple Tactics to Reduce Your Exposure to PFAS
While it’s impossible to dodge PFAS completely, there are a couple of ways to limit your exposure to them. Below are a few mentioned:
#1 Avoid Nonstick Cookware
Nonstick pans and pots are coated with PFAS, which leach into the meals at high heat. These cookware also become unsafe for use once the nonstick coating wears out. The Washington Department of Ecology advises against heating such cookware at temperatures above 400° Fahrenheit. It further advises people to toss them away as soon as the coating scratches.
A safe alternative to nonstick cookware is a cast iron pan. Ceramic and stainless steel pots and pans are also viable options.
#2 Cut Back on Fast Food
Fast food chains and restaurants usually use grease-resistant packages to keep meat juices and oil from spilling on your clothing. Of course, the paper boxes, wrappers, and other containers contain PFAS that are resistant to oil.
A person’s risk of exposure to PFAS depends on their contact time, i.e., the amount of time a food item spends in that packaging. Last year, hundreds of food packages were tested by Consumer Reports.
Almost one-third of the food packaging from brands like Burger King, Cava, and McDonald’s had PFAS above 20 ppm, with 22 exceeding 100 ppm. Hence, it’s best to avoid fast foods, especially those that sell their items in PFAS-containing packages.
#3 Get Rid of Stain-Resistant Carpets and Fabrics
Textiles that are marketed as stain-resistant and water-resistant aren’t PFAS-free. Almost all common household items, such as hiking boots, down jackets, upholstered furniture, and wall-to-wall carpeting, contain PFAS.
A handful of researchers don’t think these compounds are absorbable by the skin. But they believe these stuff shed fibers that can move around the house via dust. Ultimately, they will enter occupants’ bodies through ingestion or inhalation.
Look for textiles that are marketed as PFAS-free and only buy them from reputed companies.
#4 Steer Clear of Cosmetics That Contain PFAS
Did you know that some of your favorite cosmetics are chock-full of cancer-causing chemicals, including PFAS?
Ever since a recent study brought to light a list of potentially harmful chemicals found in cosmetics, it has raised concerns among people on how to choose safe products. In the study, researchers tested over 200 makeup products from Target, Sephora, and Ulta Beauty. After thorough research, half of the tested products contained PFAS.
Apps like Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Guide (EWG) and Clearya can help you steer clear of cosmetics with PFAS.
PFAS are hard to break down, which is why getting rid of them seems impossible. But believe us, it isn’t. Currently, engineers and scientists are working to devise technologies to eliminate PFAS from water, soil, and air.
Other ways to eliminate your exposure to PFAS include getting a water filter to make sure you’re not drinking contaminated water. As PFAS are widely found in water bodies, freshwater fishes are a major source of these chemicals. It’s best to opt for farm-raised fish rather than locally caught fish. Rest assured, these small steps you take can make a world of difference in eliminating PFAS from the environment.