Read full article by Paula Gardner (MLive)
“One thing to remember: You are not likely to find ‘PFAS’ on any ingredient list. There are an estimated 5,000 versions of the per- and polyfluorinated chemicals that depend on the bond between carbon and fluorine to create a moisture barrier.
Many of those PFAS chemicals are considered proprietary information, allowing them to hide not just from consumers looking for information on product content but also scientists.
Experts say policy changes will have the biggest effects on how much PFAS is getting into our environment and our bodies. But PFAS contamination also remains a personal issue. Here are some tips for people who want to reduce the chemicals in their daily lives…
Estimate your own exposure.
In Michigan, the Michigan PFAS Action and Response Team website has information and links to test results, contaminated areas and how to check whether fish caught in a state waterway is safe to eat. A recently launched citizen group will help the state increase its reach to residents outside of ‘hot zones.’
One new tool is found on The PFAS Exchange, an innovation developed through PFAS-REACH, an NIH funded project investigating effects of PFAS on the immune systems of young children and providing support for PFAS-impacted communities.
The online PFAS exposure estimator will help you understand more about your risks.
Check the labels on rugs and carpet.
Stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s will stop selling rugs and carpets with PFAS, which is a big step toward reducing the chemicals in U.S. homes – and, ultimately, in landfills.
But in the meantime, many of us are using products with ‘stain-resistant’ fabric protector. That’s one clue that PFAS is a part of the production…
Cut down on how much fast food you consume.
Many fast food and carryout containers contain some PFAS. About 20 of the chemicals are allowed in wrappers that keep food grease from leaking through packaging, but you might be surprised just how little is known about those 20 types of PFAS.
One example: David Andrews of Environmental Working Group said early this year that the chemistry for many of those wrappers is based on a type of PFAS called 6:2 FTS. That’s a common replacement chemical for PFOS and PFOA, both of which are under a voluntary ban…
Consider your water.
Big-picture, policy-makers are considering what’s allowed in your drinking water. And in Michigan, the amount of PFAS likely will drop soon, at least for seven compounds.
But if you still wonder what you’re drinking, you have a few options.
Some people use a counter-top water purifying pitcher. Some are approved for reducing PFOA and PFOS, but it’s unclear how they perform with other PFAS compounds. They include multiple styles from Aquasana, though it’s difficult to tell which ones from the website. Call before purchasing to confirm that it will be PFAS certified. Other filter systems can affix to taps or provide whole-house coverage, at a cost ranging from a few hundred dollars up to around $2,000 for reverse-osmosis systems…
Michigan residents can see test results from their municipal and school water systems on the Michigan PFAS Action and Response Team database.
If the state isn’t offering you a water system test because you live outside of a known PFAS zone, you can get your own test done. The state provides information on laboratories located within the state and guidance on how to take a sample of your drinking water.
Check out your cookware.
Warnings about Teflon-coated pans started circulating more than a decade ago. While some experts say the amount of the chemical that can transfer to food or gas during the cooking process can be minute, this also is a controllable step for the average person.
If you have a non-stick pan, don’t let it get scratched by using metal implements in it. And know that the hotter it gets, the more likely there could be PFAS released. Keep it under 500 degrees. Most items cooked on a stovetop will smoke or burn at that temperature. Two oils, safflower and avocado, will not. Avoid them at high heats if you’re concerned…
If you have the choice and the budget, aim for stainless steel or cast iron.
PFAS is even in makeup.
The chemicals reach consumer products through beauty products, too. Teflon and other PFAS can be used in items like anti-aging creams or other products.
Environmental Working Group performs regular studies of 70,000 products, producing the ‘Skin Deep’ database. If you want to stop applying PFAS or other dangerous chemicals to your skin, check it out. You also may be surprised at which products don’t have a lot of data behind them.
From the EWG website: ‘(W)e 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.’
Is waterproofing worth it?
Many of us grew up turning to waterproof jackets and spray for our boots (especially when they are suede). But is the exposure worth it to you?
Spraying a pair of boots, for example, may involve holding the boots and getting the spray on your hands; breathing the chemical as you apply it; and touching some of the residue every time you put on your boots. Then, when you dispose of them, you’re sending a small amount of PFAS to the landfill…
PFAS Central, a project of the Green Science Policy, compiled a list for consumers seeking PFAS-free products.
What’s essential to your life?
Considering the ‘essentiality’ of PFAS is a growing movement among scientists and environmentalists. Just like the question above about waterproofing, they are asking that the public considers just what value the chemicals add after considering the risks.
Answers for a medical device, they say, can be dramatically different from shiny trim on a vehicle.
‘If we were to say we’re getting rid of many uses … that would reduce the amount of new PFAS entered into the environment,’ said Linda Birnbaum, former director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, as well as the National Toxicology Program.”