A study published in the journal ‘Environmental Science and Technology’ showed that many children’s products, including those labelled as “waterproof”, “stain-resistant”, or “environment friendly” contain harmful PFA chemicals that are not mentioned on the label.
“Children’s bodies are still developing and are especially sensitive to chemical exposures,” said Dr. Laurel Schaider, senior scientist at Silent Spring Institute, a UK-based public health advocacy.
The team tested 93 different products often used by children and adolescents. These products include bedding, furnishings, and clothing. The researchers specifically chose products that were labelled “stain-resistant”, “water-resistant”, green or “non-toxic”.
They first used a rapid screening method to test the products for fluorine – a marker of PFA. It detected PFAS in 54 of 93 products, including 21 with labels such as “eco”, “green” or “non-toxic”. The chemicals were most widely used in products labeled “water-” or “stain-” resistant.
PFAS are a class of more than 9000 chemicals that companies add to a wide variety of consumer products to make them non-stick, waterproof, and stain-resistant. PFAS are also used in everyday items such as non-stick cookware, food packaging, cosmetics, and even dental floss.
These chemicals are linked to cancer, birth defects, liver disease, thyroid disorder, decreased immunity, hormonal disruption and a range of other serious health problems. PFAS are dubbed “forever chemicals” as they do not break down naturally and accumulate in the human body.
“These are products that children come into close contact with every day and over a long period of time. Given the toxicity of PFAS and the fact that the chemicals don’t serve a critical function, they should not be allowed in products,” says co-author Kathryn Rodgers, a doctoral student at Boston University School of Public Health.
“The findings highlight the need for green certifiers to include PFAS in their criteria and to conduct a more thorough review of the products they certify,” Rodgers said.