“Most people know Teflon as the coating on nonstick cookware. It’s also used in stain-resistant fabrics, waterproof clothing and an array of industrial applications. Teflon is a brand name for PTFE, one of thousands of fluorinated chemicals known as PFASs or PFCs [1] – some of which have been linked to serious health effects including cancer, thyroid disease and reduced effectiveness of childhood vaccines.

So what are Teflon and a dozen other PFAS chemicals doing in cosmetics?

EWG scientists scoured our Skin Deep® database, which provides ingredient lists and safety ratings for almost 75,000 cosmetics and personal care products, to see which ones contained Teflon or other PFASs.

We found Teflon in 66 different products from 15 brands, including a number of household names. Teflon was the most commonly found ingredient for this class of chemicals, but in all, we identified 13 different PFAS chemicals in nearly 200 products from 28 brands. And it’s not just in makeup: PFASs were also found in sunscreen, shampoo and shaving cream…

The presence of PFASs and many other potentially harmful chemicals in the products we put on our bodies is a deeply concerning consequence of the antiquated federal regulations governing the safety of cosmetics and personal care products. Those regulations are based on legislation passed in the 1930s, before most of the synthetic chemicals in use today were even invented.

PFASs are among the most worrisome of such chemicals. Compounds historically or currently used to make Teflon, Scotchgard, Gore-Tex, microwave popcorn bags, fast food wrappers and hundreds of other products have polluted people, animals, drinking water and the environment worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fluorinated chemicals contaminate the bodies of nearly allAmericans.

DuPont manufactured PTFE, or Teflon, for decades. Its production relied on another PFC known as PFOA. PFOA and its close chemical cousin PFOS, formerly an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard, were phased out under pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency after revelations that secret internal company studies showed they caused cancer and birth defects in lab animals, built up in people’s bodies and did not break down in the environment…

Besides PTFE, EWG identified an alphabet soup of other fluorinated chemicals in the personal care products we assessed – PFH, OFPMA, PFD and others. Absorption of these chemicals through skin is not expected to be a significant route of exposure, but when used on or around the eyes, absorption can increase, posing a greater hazard. There may also be significant variation in absorption depending on the type of PFAS used in the products, and the other PFAS chemicals present…

PFAS chemicals are often listed on product labels, so you should be wary of any ingredient with “fluoro” in the name. Our Skin Deep database can also help you identify products that may contain PFASs. If your favorite brand uses PFAS chemicals in its products, urge it to stop. And tell your elected officials to support reform of regulations that allow potentially harmful, but inadequately studied, chemicals into cosmetics and personal care products.”

Read the full article by David Andrews and Carla Burns.