Unmasking the Hidden Dangers: 5 Toxic Sources of PFAS You Need to Know
I'm on a mission to raise awareness about PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), commonly referred to as "forever chemicals." These persistent compounds are known for their non-stick properties and are found in numerous products we encounter daily.
PFAS are called the forever chemical because they bio-accumulate and they won't leave the environment for possibly thousands of years.
Now, in your body, they can last five, seven, upwards to ten years, and they're directly linked to:
-a suppressed immune response (you get sicker more frequently, and with more severity)
- all the other things that come with endocrine disruption (obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure).
While Teflon pans have received much attention for PFAS exposure, I'm here to reveal five other surprising sources that may be even more toxic. Fear not, though; I'll also guide you towards easy alternatives to minimize PFAS exposure.
Let's dive in!
1. Water: The Silent Carrier
Did you know that every drop of PFAS ever produced still exists today? These chemicals linger for thousands of years, contaminating our water supplies worldwide. The EU has taken a step towards banning over 9,000+ PFAS compounds due to their harmful effects.
The EPA has actually proposed legal limits for PFAS in our water - and has said that there is no safe amount in your drinking water. This is a huge step forward - although we still have a long way to go with regulating these toxic chemicals.
But it's not just an American problem - It's in all the global water supply. You're just discovering a lot of big places in the EU as well.
In the United States, there are certain places that are worse than others, although by recent estimates it's in over 80% of all drinking water supplies, including private wells. And by the way, it's in a lot of bottled water too, because most bottled water just comes from municipal water supplies.
To protect yourself, consider investing in a reliable water filter, such as a reverse osmosis system, to remove PFAS from your drinking water.
2. Seafood: A Widespread Contamination
PFAS pollution in our water has dire consequences for seafood. Studies have revealed that PFAS is present in all types of fish and crustaceans. While ocean fish generally contain lower levels than freshwater fish, the risks are still significant. There have been multiple health advisories around the US - as freshwater fish has been shown to have 280x more PFAS than ocean fish. The predominant PFAS compound is PFOS - which is what Scotchgard is, as its' production has caused decades of pollution into our waters.
To minimize exposure, limit your consumption of freshwater fish and choose seafood wisely.
3. Fast Food Packaging: A Hidden Hazard
You might be surprised to learn that fast food packaging, particularly paper-based options, is coated in PFAS to prevent sticking and grease absorption. Although California has taken a step in banning intentional PFAS use in fast food packaging, and many companies have committed to "phasing them out" vigilance is essential. When certain consumer advocate groups have gone back and tested some of those food packages that they said were "PFAS FREE"... guess what they found... PFAS.
Opt for PFAS-free alternatives when possible, and keep an eye out for further developments in this area.
4. Baking Paper: Avoid anything that says "Greaseproof"
Baked goods often rely on non-stick parchment paper-lined trays, which are likely to contain PFAS. Commercially-made cakes and cookies are no exception to this hidden hazard. It's also been proven - that they migrate into the food they're being cooked with - as heat accelerates leaching. Protect yourself by opting for unlined and uncoated butcher paper or unlined muffin paper for baking. A smear of butter can also provide non-stick benefits without PFAS exposure.
5. Cosmetics: Hiding in Plain Sight
Cosmetics, including foundation and mascara, have been found to contain PFAS. While some states have passed legislation to regulate these chemicals in cosmetics, many products on the market still contain them.
Look out for products labeled as "long-lasting" or providing oil resistance. Choosing PFAS-free cosmetics will safeguard your health.
Awareness of PFAS exposure is crucial in safeguarding our health and the environment. While Teflon pans have garnered attention, other sources of PFAS, such as water, seafood, fast food packaging, baking paper, and cosmetics, pose significant risks as well. By taking proactive measures, such as investing in water filters, choosing seafood wisely, avoiding paper-based fast food packaging, using PFAS-free baking alternatives, and opting for cosmetics without PFAS, we can significantly reduce our exposure to these toxic forever chemicals. Let's strive to make informed choices and prioritize our well-being and that of our planet. Together, we can build a healthier, PFAS-free future.