The Non-Toxic Kitchen Blog

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Unveiling the Truth About 'Forever Chemicals' in Your Family's Home

Welcome to part 3 of our 3 part series on Toxins to be aware this fall!

Part 3 will cover the forever chemicals to be aware of in our clothing & homes.  Especially as you think about Halloween costumes for your kids this year.  These chemicals have been detected in a variety of products from China, which is where your typical Halloween costumes come from.  Think outside the box this year and get a used costume that has off-gassed these harmful chemicals for a few years already instead of buying new.  

Let's take a deeper look at what these chemicals are, what harm they cause and what we can do to prevent ourselves from coming into contact with them.

What are these chemicals? 

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as highly fluorinated chemicals, PFCs and forever chemicals, are very problematic to human health and the environment, 

They do not naturally exit the body for months or years and are not known to degrade in the environment, so they've been dubbed “forever chemicals.”

Examples of chemicals in this class include PFOA, PFOS, and more than 3000 related compounds. (Green Science Policy Institute)

How are we being exposed to them?

PFAS are used in many products and industrial applications because of their oil-, stain-, and water-repellent properties. 

They are found in carpets, cleaners, clothing, cookware, cosmetics, food packaging, furnishings, outdoor apparel, paints, papers, protective coatings and sealants, and firefighting foams. (Green Science Policy Institute)

In fact, there are over 12,000 of these persistent chemicals, so they are very hard to avoid completely. 

PFAS are found in the bodies of 99% of Americans!

In terms of children, they are far more problematic.  “Children’s bodies are still developing and are especially sensitive to chemical exposures,” says co-author Dr. Laurel Schaider, senior scientist at Silent Spring Institute. “It makes sense that parents would want to steer clear of products that contain ingredients that could impact their children’s health now and in the future.” (Mamavation)

 

What are the health concerns?

These forever chemicals have been linked to:

  •  kidney and testicular cancer
  • elevated cholesterol
  • decreased fertility
  • thyroid problems
  • decreased immune response to vaccines in children.
  • increased risk of allergies & asthma in young children
  • affect the growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children
  • metabolic diseases like obesity & diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant
  • increase the chances of miscarriage 
  • lowers male fertility through low sperm count
  • smaller penis size
  • Causes endocrine disruption 

What can we do?

We are exposed to all of these forever chemicals through contaminated food, drinking water, clothing, furniture, cosmetics, cooking equipment, and even in the air and dust.  

Because we are constantly exposed to these chemicals,  it’s imperative to reduce the amount of PFAS we are exposed to.  

Here are the top things you can do to avoid exposure:

  1. Choose clothing, bedding & carpets without water & stain repellant
  2. Avoid personal care products with “perfluor-“, “polyfluor-“, and “PTFE” on the label
  3. Beware of products labeled "PFOA free" - they often contain similar chemicals instead
  4. Avoid food with greaseproof packaging
  5. Purchase products without PFAS 
  6. Filter your drinking water at home
  7. Get rid of any Teflon pans you have and opt for cast iron, glass, or ceramic cookware instead 

 

Remember:  your actions have a compounding effect on your life.  It’s the little things you do every day that make big impacts on your health and your quality of life.  You can do this!

 

Don't forget to get your free cheat sheet with my favorite candy when you go Halloween candy shopping!