Monday, September 23, 2019

EPA and Chemical Companies New of Harmful Effects of New 'Safer' PFAS- So Why Are These Chemicals in our Homes and Baby Gear?

Strollers, upholstered furniture, rugs and winter coats. What do they all have in common?

Most of the companies that make these products apply PFAS chemicals in order to achieve water and stain repellant properties.

While the two best known PFAS chemicals ( PFOA and PFOS infamously of Teflon pans) were found to be so harmful that the manufacturers voluntarily agreed to phasing them out in the US, there are hundreds ( yes hundreds) of new chemicals that are in the same PFAS family currently being used.  When we talk about a chemical "family"  we refer to chemicals that are very similarly structured and that,  thus, tend to act in very similar ways.  In the case of the PFAS family- most chemicals in this family can create the same water and stain repellant properties but they are also bioaccumulative (they never break down or take very long to break down) and equally bad for our health.   

Consumer good companies, which feel the need to offer water or stain repellency in their products, have turned to these new PFAS chemicals as alternatives to the ones that have been phased away.  In some cases, for example companies like Patagonia and Columbia, the companies are open and upfront about their PFAS use and the challenges to find a PFAS free alternative.  However, more often than not, companies do not disclose what they use and prefer to keep their stain proofing methods a company secret.  Pretty much all companies using the newest crop of PFAS chemicals  assure the public that they are “ safer” and “less toxic”.  

But are they?

 Last week, representatives from the chemical companies that produce these chemicals, Dupont and 3M, testified before Congress about their own safety studies. Turns out, these companies provided the US EPA with their own studies showing that the 40 PFAS chemicals currently in 'active use' in the US caused serious health effects on lab animals exposed to every single one of the PFAS chemicals they are making.

Descriptions of the effects of this new crop of PFAS chemicals in the documents provided to the EPA by makers of these chemicals in the past 20 years include:

“neurotoxic at all levels”

“When pregnant rats were exposed to it, their pups lost weight, and their pups’ skulls, ribs, and pelvises tended to develop abnormally.”

“caused discoloration of the teeth, increased liver weights, and lowered ’ red blood cell counts.

“increased pup mortality

“dental effects; mild dehydration; urine-stained abdominal fur; decreased motor activity; uncoordinated movements;…eye area swelling; brown fur on the lower midline; hunched posture; and slight excess salivation.”

Every single one of the 40 PFAS chemicals currently in use had studies that showed harmful effects on rodents and every single one of them were allowed to be introduced to the US market and described as safer replacements 🤯🤮 even though both the chemical companies and the US EPA new otherwise.

(additionally, a
ll the new PFAS chemicals persist indefinitely in the environment and also have the potential to contaminate water and remain in the bodies of people and animals. )

15 of this group of 40 chemicals are currently being produced in “ very large quantities” so chances are it might be in your baby’s stroller, new sofa, snow gear or even non-stick cooking pans and most definitely in your drinking water.

What can you do to reduce your exposure to them ? 

1. Stop using all kitchen pots pans and appliances that have ‘ non-Stick’ coatings  (my Amazon shop has lots of options)

2. Purchase “ PFAS “ free winter gear.  When possible use wool, cashmere and other materials.   

3. Avoid “ performance fabric,” stain proof and water proofing fabrics in furniture, carpets, rugs and and window treatments 

4. Research baby gear. Do not be afraid to ask companies if the baby gear has any added PFAS chemicals ( or how it achieves stain or water proofing). Key words to avoid are 'water repellant' 'stain proofing'

5. Use caution when using molded plates, bowls, clamshells and multi-compartment food trays that are “ plant based” and compostable.  These are often used for take out containers and in school cafeterias

6. Do not eat microwave popcorn as the bags contain PFAS chemicals- make your own popcorn instead.

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