Why rich women have more PFAS in their blood than people of lower income - Part 1 of a series
How Consumer Choices Impact PFAS Levels:
Unraveling the Surprising Link Between Income and PFAS Exposure in Women
In recent years, we've learned more and more about the dangers PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), which have been linked to Tto various health issues like kidney & testicular cancer, diabetes, ulcerative colitis and obesity.
The impact of PFAS on marginalized communities, particularly BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and lower-income individuals, has been a matter of concern. These communities are disproportionately exposed to PFAS in ways they cannot control - their drinking water has higher levels of PFAS, they tend to live closer to PFAS manufacturing facilities so they have more environmental contamination of PFAS in their air & soil.
However, multiple studies have now shown that that the PFAS levels in women's blood are higher in higher-income individuals, regardless of race or ethnicity. In this blog post, we'll explore the fascinating findings of these studies, the factors contributing to the phenomenon, and how conscious consumer choices can help reduce PFAS exposure.
**Understanding the PFAS Disparity**
Previous assumptions led us to believe that BIPOC communities and lower-income groups bore the brunt of PFAS exposure due to disparities in environmental pollution.
However, a recent review outlining this phenomenon was published - and they provide some of the potential reasons as to why higher income is correlated to higher blood levels of PFAS.
**The Role of Consumer Products**
One of the primary factors contributing to this surprising correlation is the choice of consumer products. PFAS are found in a broad range of items, including stain-resistant or waterproofing treatments like Scotchgard, certain cosmetics, and outdoor sports equipment, among others. Understanding these connections can empower individuals to make informed decisions to lower their overall PFAS exposure.
This means we can CONTROL how much PFAS we have in our bodies - contrary to our environmental exposure level, which we cannot control in many ways.
This is GOOD news!
**1. Stain-Resistant Treatments**
Stain-resistant treatments are commonly used in carpets, furniture, and clothing. While this feature is popular among higher-income individuals, it comes with the unintended consequence of PFAS exposure. These chemicals can leach onto the skin and accumulate in indoor dust, presenting an ongoing source of exposure.
**2. Cosmetics and Makeup**
Cosmetics that boast features like waterproof, long-lasting, or smear-resistant are often laced with PFAS. Women with higher incomes, who tend to use more makeup, may unknowingly be increasing their PFAS intake. Choosing PFAS-free cosmetic products can help mitigate this risk - one great resource is the EWG Verified program, as well as their Healthy Living App.
**3. Seafood Consumption**
Seafood is a significant dietary source of PFAS. Higher-income individuals often consume more seafood, leading to increased exposure. Opting for a balanced diet with reduced seafood intake can be beneficial in minimizing PFAS consumption.
**4. Outdoor Recreational Sports**
Certain outdoor recreational activities, such as skiing, involve the use of PFAS-rich products like ski wax. While not exclusive to higher-income individuals, they may be more prevalent among this group. Engaging in alternative activities or seeking PFAS-free alternatives can lower exposure levels.
The discovery that higher-income women have higher PFAS levels in their blood than their lower-income counterparts may seem counterintuitive at first.
However, understanding the influence of consumer choices sheds light on this surprising correlation. By opting for PFAS-free products and making conscious decisions about diet and recreational activities, individuals can take control of their PFAS exposure.
In the broader context, this research underscores the importance of addressing the widespread issue of PFAS contamination in both environmental and consumer realms.
Efforts to ban PFAS in consumer products and reduce their presence in drinking water supplies are essential to safeguard public health. By collectively working toward a PFAS-free future, we can protect ourselves and future generations from the harmful effects of these persistent and toxic chemicals. Let us make informed choices today to secure a healthier tomorrow.