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Wellness

Dealing with the Health Ramifications of Forever Chemicals

We like to believe that everything we come across in our daily lives is harmless. Unfortunately, we have recently uncovered that widely used substances might have severe health consequences.

There exist numerous forever chemicals that can pose a threat. So, how can you manage the health implications associated with forever chemicals?

To begin with, it’s crucial to understand what these substances are and where they can be located.

Defining PFAS

Teflon was accidentally discovered in 1938 by chemists when a refrigerant gas unexpectedly solidified. Upon further examination, they found that it was highly stable, extraordinarily slippery, non-corrosive, and possessed an impressively high melting point. Two decades later, the non-stick Teflon pan made its debut on store shelves.

During the discovery of Teflon, chemists overlooked the fact that it is a polyfluoroalkyl substance. Subsequently, scientists have identified over 6,000 poly and perfluoroalkyl substances, collectively known as PFAS.

PFAS are labeled as “forever chemicals” due to their ability to endure for thousands of years without degrading.

Your Exposure to PFAS

Studies suggest that 97% of Americans have traces of PFAS in their bloodstream from exposure to various sources. Once an item is exposed to a product containing PFAS, it can retain the substance. You can potentially encounter PFAS through certain manufactured goods like:

  • Food wrappings and the contents within
  • Consumption of water (both public and well water)
  • Clothing
  • Furniture fabric
  • Rugs
  • Non-sticky cookware
  • Beauty products
  • Shampoo
  • Fire extinguisher foam
  • Recycled organic matter

Given the numerous sources of PFAS, it may seem daunting to avoid them. Nevertheless, substantial exposure to PFAS can lead to severe health implications.

Health Hazards Posed by PFAS

Recent scientific research indicates that exposure to PFAS can result in diminished fertility, heightened risk of preeclampsia, low birth weight, early puberty, skeletal abnormalities, hormone disturbances, alterations in behavior, diverse forms of cancer, weakened immune system, elevated cholesterol levels, and escalated risk of obesity.

Given these risks and potentially more, it’s advisable to steer clear of any future encounter with PFAS.

Avoiding PFAS

Thankfully, more companies are phasing out PFAS, and there are substitute products available. However, it’s essential to identify the industries most probable to expose you so you can research accordingly.

  • Avoid non-stick cookware – Even cookware claiming to be PFAS-free may contain other enduring chemicals, which can emit toxic fumes when heated. If purchasing new cookware isn’t an immediate option, keep the temperature below 400 degrees and refrain from using abrasive cleansing agents that can scratch the surface.
  • Avoid disposable food containers – Many takeaway containers from fast-food joints and restaurants contain PFAS.
  • Opt for untreated carpeting – Most carpet treatments include PFAS.
  • Prepare homemade popcorn – Several microwave popcorn bags incorporate PFAS, which can leach into the popcorn.
  • Steer clear of dental floss coated with PFAS – Certain types of dental floss utilize PFAS, including some variants from Glide and Oral-B.
  • Avoid fabrics resistant to stains – Refrain from utilizing furniture treated with Scotchguard and other stain-resistant treatments.
  • Avoid water-resistant garments and sports equipment – These products often incorporate PFAS.
  • Inspect the labels – Scrutinizing product labels can help identify the presence of PFAS. Make sure to conduct research on any unfamiliar components.

Eliminating PFAS

PFAF is already widespread, making it challenging to control. Nevertheless, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is striving to enforce regulations to mitigate PFAS exposure.

The EPA is advocating for the classification of PFAS as a hazardous substance and working towards supervising and reducing polluted areas and monitoring the levels of PFAS in drinking water. They are also advancing research on the implications of PFAS.

Several organizations are removing PFAS from their merchandise to prevent future contamination. The Centers for Disease Control and other groups are educating the public about PFAS and its ramifications.

Handling PFAS

You may have already been exposed to PFAS through numerous items, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take measures to diminish and eventually cease your exposure. With adequate research and awareness, you can strive to evade them in the future and reduce the likelihood of encountering adverse health effects.

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