How to Minimize Exposure to Harmful PFAS Chemicals
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS, have raised concerns due to their adverse health effects. These man-made chemicals are pervasive in consumer products and can even contaminate drinking water sources. Here’s a guide on how to avoid PFAS.
Understanding What to Avoid
PFAS chemicals can be found in various everyday items such as drinking water, food packaging, cookware, clothing, and cosmetics. While completely avoiding them may be challenging, it’s crucial to take steps to mitigate your exposure, as prolonged contact with these “forever chemicals” can lead to severe health disorders, including cancer.
Assess Your Drinking Water
Environmental experts have identified PFAS contamination in both private well water and municipal water systems. To ensure the quality and safety of your tap water, contact your local water utility to inquire about PFAS testing. This will provide insights into the level of contamination and allow you to take necessary precautions.
Be Wary of Food Packaging and Cookware
PFAS are commonly used in food packaging and cookware, which can pose a risk of ingesting these harmful chemicals. Additionally, PFAS can be found in textiles such as carpets, upholstery, and clothing. To reduce your exposure, look for PFAS-free labels on products and do some research to identify brands committed to minimizing chemical content.
Limit Use of PFAS Cosmetics
Many personal care products, including makeup, nail polish, lotions, cleansers, and shaving creams, contain PFAS additives. These chemicals enhance product texture and consistency, but they also pose health risks with prolonged use. When purchasing personal care items, scrutinize the labels and avoid products containing ingredients such as PTFE, Perfluorooctyltriethoxysilane, Perfluorononyl dimethicone, Perfluorodecalin, and Perfluorohexane.
Water Quality Matters
If your local utility cannot provide information about PFAS in public drinking water or you have a private well, contact your state for access to state-certified laboratories that offer PFAS testing. Ensure you follow an EPA-validated testing method and handle the kit with care to avoid contamination.
Choose the Right Water Filtration
Not all water filters effectively remove PFAS. Some systems may even increase PFAS concentrations. Research suggests that under-sink reverse osmosis filters are the most efficient at PFAS removal, while boiling water is ineffective and can potentially increase PFAS levels.
Avoid PFAS in Food Products
PFAS can enter your food through environmental contamination or food packaging. To minimize exposure, avoid grease-resistant packaging like PFAS-treated microwave bags. Additionally, refrain from reheating food in takeout containers and use glass, stainless steel, cast iron, or ceramic cookware instead of nonstick options.
Stay Informed About Fish Consumption
Some states test fish for PFAS and provide guidelines to residents. The FDA also shares PFAS test results for imported seafood samples. To address PFAS contamination, federal and state government regulators and manufacturers must collaborate.
What to Do if You Suspect Exposure
If you suspect exposure to PFAS, consult your doctor. A blood test may reveal your PFAS levels, but it cannot predict the impact on your health. New guidelines have been established to manage PFAS exposure, testing, and clinical follow-up.
Many PFAS lawsuits have been filed to help those exposed who have developed health issues as a result. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits seek compensation for pain, suffering and medical bills that they allege they have suffered due to PFAS contamination.
In summary, while avoiding PFAS entirely may be challenging, taking proactive steps to limit exposure can significantly reduce the potential health risks associated with these chemicals. Additionally, staying informed and advocating for safer alternatives is essential to protect public health and the environment.