PFAS, or 'the forever chemicals, due to their long-lasting nature, are present in nonstick cookware, food packaging, and stain repellents and can cause health issues. Knowing the sources, making conscious decisions about products, limiting processed and packaged foods, and opting for safer alternatives is essential. You can protect yourself and your family from potential harm through these steps.
What is PFAS?
PFAS are a class of chemical substances used in various commercial and industrial applications, including nonstick cookware, stain repellents, and food packaging.
There are two main types of PFAS:
- Traditional PFAS
- Next-generation PFAS (also known as 'long-chain' PFAS).
Traditional PFAS include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), which have been phased out in the United States due to health concerns.
Next-generation PFAS such as perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA), and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) have also been identified as contaminants in drinking water and other consumer products. Unfortunately, next-generation PFAS are not regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Health effects of PFAS
PFAS exposure at low levels can cause a few health risks and medical conditions, such as weakened immunity, thyroid issues, and cancer. Research is ongoing to see if it can impact fetus/baby growth and development, but these results are not definitive. Pregnant women can pass on PFAS to their fetuses, which could hurt the infant's health. Also, children exposed to PFAS in their young years may be at a higher risk for getting ADHD in the future.
Common sources of PFAS
PFAS are in many consumer products, including nonstick cookware, stain repellents, paper towels, toilet paper, food packaging, and PFOS in drinking water. While nonstick cookware is a significant source of PFAS, the use of fluorotelomer-based substances has decreased in recent years due to health concerns. However, exposure to PFAS is still common, as many products are still being manufactured with PFAS and sold in stores across the United States. Studies show that bottled water contains PFAS.
Understanding product labels
While the terms 'PFC-free' and 'PFAS-free' may suggest that a product is free of PFAS, these phrases do not indicate the absence of next-generation PFAS.
To ensure that a product does not contain any PFAS, the product, and personal care product labels should indicate 'no PFAS,' 'no PFOA,' or 'no PFOS.' If a product meets all three of these requirements, it is reasonable to assume that it is free of PFAS. However, if the label only indicates 'no PFOA' or 'no PFOS,' it may be contaminated with other types of PFAS. In this case, we recommend you exercise extra precautions and confirm with the manufacturer that the product is indeed PFAS-free.
Limiting consumption of processed and packaged foods.
Maintaining a balanced diet and not over-restricting certain foods. Many avoid risky foods like canned goods, paper/cardboard, and restaurant-steamed dishes due to toxins like fluorosilicic acid (PFAS), lead, and arsenic in water and packaging. Please remember the health risks of consuming freshwater fish and processed/packaged foods, and remember that food is still an essential source of nutrients.
Choosing safer alternatives
Please keep in mind which products to avoid. However, it is also essential to recognize which products are safer alternatives and can help reduce your exposure to PFAS.
By choosing safer alternatives and avoiding consuming PFAS, you can help reduce your exposure to these toxic substances and protect yourself and your family from harmful health effects. For example, you are using stainless steel cookware instead of nonstick cookware. At the same time, paper products can be replaced with cloth or paper towels treated with fewer fluorinated chemicals. In addition, you can purchase food in glass jars and containers and filter your water.
Testing for PFAS
Be aware of where PFAS are commonly found and make conscious decisions about which products to purchase. It is also essential to test for the presence of PFAS to determine whether or not a particular item is contaminated.
Several labs currently offer PFAS blood testing to individuals that measure PFAS in blood serum. You can also purchase a home finger-prick test. Many organizations, such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG), have lists of recommended labs that provide PFAS testing services.
When determining the level of contamination, We recommend that you test both your tap water and your blood. When testing your blood, it is crucial to test for both PFOA and PFOS, as these are the two most common types of PFAS.
Tips for reducing your exposure to PFAS
Minimizing exposure to PFAS by being aware of where they are found and consciously selecting products is essential. Reducing processed and packaged food intake while opting for safer options can help protect you and your family from health risks. Follow the advice in this article to lower PFAS exposure and stay healthy.
Removing PFAS and PFOS
PFAS and PFOS are now regulated in; Municipal, Food Processing, Distilleries, and Industrial water applications that require a professional team experienced in water treatment and purification.
DeLoach Industries Inc. has been designing and manufacturing water purification since 1959. Our trained professional can assist you with your efforts to remove PFAS and PFOS from your potable and non-potable water sources. Please get in touch with the professionals at DeLoach Industries at 941.371.4995 to help you get the purest and highest quality water.