Read the full article from Duke University (Phys.org)
“The anti-fogging sprays and cloths many people use to prevent condensation on their eyeglasses when wearing a mask or face shield may contain high levels of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), a new Duke University-led study finds.
The researchers tested four top-rated anti-fogging sprays and five top-rated anti-fogging cloths sold on Amazon. They found all nine products contained fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs) and fluorotelomer ethoxylates (FTEOs), two types of PFAS that largely have flown under the scientific radar until now.
Exposure to some PFAS, particularly perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), is associated with impaired immune function, cancer, thyroid disease, and other health disorders. Mothers and young children may be especially vulnerable to the chemicals, which can affect reproductive and developmental health.
‘Our tests show the sprays contain up to 20.7 milligrams of PFAS per milliliter of solution, which is a pretty high concentration,’ said Nicholas Herkert, a postdoctoral researcher at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who led the study.
Because FTOHs and FTEOs have received relatively little study, scientists don’t yet know what health risks they might pose, Herkert noted, but research suggests that once FTOHs have been inhaled or absorbed through the skin, they could break down in the body to PFOA or other long-lived PFAS substances that are known to be toxic. Additionally, the FTEOs used in all four spray mixtures that were analyzed in the new study exhibited significant cell-altering toxicity and conversion to fat cells in lab tests, he said.
‘If we were to assume that FTOHs and FTEOs have similar toxicity to PFOA and PFOS, then one spray from these bottles would expose you to PFAS at levels that are several orders of magnitude higher than you’d receive from drinking a liter of water that contains PFAS at the current EPA health advisory limit for safe consumption, which is 70 nanograms per liter,’ Herkert said.
‘It’s disturbing to think that products people have been using on a daily basis to help keep themselves safe during the COVID pandemic may be exposing them to a different risk,’ said Heather Stapleton, the Ronie-Richele Garcia-Jones Distinguished Professor of environmental chemistry and health at Duke, who initiated the study after reviewing the ingredient label on a bottle of anti-fogging spray she purchased for her 9-year-old daughter.
‘Ironically, it was advertised as safe and nontoxic,’ Stapleton said. ‘It said to spray it on your glasses and use your fingers to rub it around.'”…