Read the full article by Jennifer Easton (Sway)

“It’s only Jan. 27 and, already, 2023 has been a huge year for PFAS. 

With Thinx settling a class-action lawsuit citing the presence of PFAS in their underwear and 3M’s long-awaited announcement to discontinue the use of PFAS by 2025, consumer awareness and media attention on this class of chemicals is reaching an all-time high. 

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), nicknamed ‘forever chemicals,’ do not fully degrade from living tissue or the environment, and are associated with health issues like thyroid disease, asthma and certain cancers. They’re present in many common consumer goods, including home furnishings like non-stick cookware and carpet, and also show up across our environment, in rainwater, drinking water and soil. In other words: they’re pretty ubiquitous. One CDC report found PFAS in the blood of 97% of Americans. 

We’ve received a lot of questions from Sway newsletter readers related to the presence of PFAS in the products they use, particularly in response to the Thinx lawsuit—and thought it was high time to consult the Green Science Policy Institute

Since its founding in 2008, the Green Science Policy Institute’s research and policy work has helped lead the movement to keep chemicals of concern out of consumer products and building materials across the world. They’ve defined PFAS as one of their six classes of harmful chemicals, and for years, have been advocating for stronger policies to reduce human exposure. 

Read on for an extremely informative interview with Rebecca Fuoco, MPH, Director of Science Communications at the Green Science Policy Institute, on how you can find products made without PFAS, and what steps brands need to be taking right now in order to protect consumers. She’s no stranger to this topic: her writing on PFAS has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and The HillThank you, Rebecca! 

How can consumers assess whether a product is PFAS-free? (e.g., Is there a reliable third-party certification that brands can achieve, or testing body for PFAS that they can work with, that the Green Science Policy Institute recommends?)

The only way to know with certainty whether a product is PFAS-free is to test it in a laboratory. However, since that’s not practical for most people, a good rule of thumb is to avoid products advertised as waterproof or stain-resistant. Consumers can also email or call manufacturers directly to ask if their products contain PFAS. You should be wary of answers like ‘our products meet all safety requirements’ or ‘our products are PFOA- or C8-free,’ which do not provide sufficient information. Finally, our Institute maintains a growing list of PFAS-free products.

Is it possible for manufacturers to create products that are entirely free of PFAS, given their ubiquity? Is brand language that states ‘no intentionally added PFAS’ more accurate than ‘PFAS-free?’

Manufacturers can and should work with the entirety of their supply chain to ensure no intentional or accidental PFAS are in their products. (See answer with manufacturer guidance further down.)”…