If you have been studying my e-newsletter, you understand that cosmetics and private care merchandise have typically examined constructive for poisonous chemical compounds. Now, a brand new examine1 performed by researchers on the University of Notre Dame discovered that greater than half of widespread U.S. cosmetics examined comprise excessive ranges of commercial compounds related to numerous well being circumstances, together with most cancers.
One chemical present in an “alarming” variety of merchandise from well-liked shops akin to Target, Ulta, Sephora and Bed, Bath and Beyond was fluorine, which is a part of the alphabet soup referred to as perfluorinated chemical compounds, traditionally abbreviated as PFC. Perfluorinated chemical compounds embrace perfluorocarbons and different per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively referred to as PFAS,2 but additionally known as PFOA and PFOS.3
PFAS are generally known as “the Teflon chemicals”4 or “forever chemicals” since they don’t breakdown within the atmosphere.5 They are utilized by producers to make merchandise water-, oil-, grease- and stain-resistant. They are additionally present in firefighting foam.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences,6 there are greater than 4,700 PFAS chemical compounds in existence and the quantity continues to rise because the business invents new kinds. Prompted by strain from the FDA, DuPont and 3M voluntarily phased out two of the 1000’s of PFAS chemical compounds, PFOS and PFOA, within the early 2000s.7
While these two chemical compounds are now not manufactured within the U.S., documentation from the FDA reveals that “phased out” does not essentially imply “not being used” anyplace. In truth, there are restricted ongoing makes use of of PFOS8 and the EPA says:9
“Although PFOA and PFOS are no longer manufactured in the United States, they are still produced internationally and can be imported into the United States in consumer goods such as carpet, leather and apparel, textiles, paper and packaging, coatings, rubber and plastics.”
This implies that though the manufacture of those poisonous chemical compounds might have stopped within the U.S., they nonetheless can arrive again within the nation through merchandise made elsewhere. And, relating to cosmetics, the three-year examine at Notre Dame, revealed in Environmental Science & Technology Letters,10 clearly signifies that the issue of PFAS chemical compounds in make-up is an ongoing concern, together with an absence of labeling.
Forever Chemicals Found in Nearly Half of Cosmetics Tested
To assess the potential environmental burden of PFAS in make-up, researchers from the college bought 231 beauty merchandise in eight classes generally bought all through the U.S. and Canada. The classes included lip, eye, face and eyebrow merchandise and foundations, mascaras and concealers.11
The researchers bought cosmetics from shops in Indiana and Michigan and examined them for fluorine. Although the components lists didn’t present PFAS by title, the scientists discovered that a variety of merchandise had precursors of the dangerous chemical compounds in them, together with fluorine, in:12
- 56% of foundations and eye merchandise
- 48% of lip merchandise
- 47% of mascaras
Many of the merchandise that examined constructive have been additionally labeled “long-lasting” or “wear-resistant.”13 The researchers didn’t determine particular beauty firms, as a substitute calling the problem “widespread.”14
Fluorine is a PFAS chemical that contaminates the water provide and may bioaccumulate within the physique. The researchers additionally discovered the merchandise examined constructive for alcohol, methacrylate and phosphate esters which might be precursors to PFAs, additionally identified to be dangerous to human well being.15
The presence and quantity of those chemical compounds was regarding. Just as vital was the revelation that solely one of many merchandise examined listed PFAS chemical compounds on the ingredient label. Graham Peaslee was the principal investigator. He spoke with a journalist from The Washington Post saying:16
“We were shocked to see how much is in some of these products … There’s no way for an average consumer to read a label and understand what’s in the product they just purchased. They can’t trust the label and that can be fixed.”
Senate Bill Proposed to Ban PFAS in Makeup
In June of 2021, Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., launched a bipartisan invoice that might require the FDA to ban all PFAS chemical compounds in beauty merchandise. The invoice known as the “No PFAS in Cosmetics Act.” Collins and Blumenthal imagine that “Americans should be able to trust that the products they are applying to their hair or skin are safe.”17
The Act is meant to direct the FDA to concern a rule that bans the intentional addition of PFAS in cosmetics. Scott Faber, senior vice chairman of presidency affairs for the Environmental Working Group (EWG) stated in a press launch from Collins:18
“Toxic forever chemicals have no place in personal care products. PFAS have been linked to serious health problems, including cancer and harm to the reproductive and immune systems. EWG applauds Senator Collins for introducing the No PFAS in Cosmetics Act. Once again, Senator Collins is making the safety of cosmetics and other personal care products a top priority.”
Collins has launched different laws previously alongside Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Together they’ve championed the Personal Care Products Safety Act that was launched within the Senate over 4 phrases.19,20,21
The Act was a sweeping invoice written to reform the regulation of non-public care merchandise and empower the FDA to evaluate components.22 The FDA would have been given authority to examine factories, data and require remembers of harmful merchandise. Cosmetic firms would even have been charged with offering $20.6 million yearly in price income.
The first time it was launched within the House in 2013-2014,23 Rep. Janice Schakowsky, D-Ill., sponsored the laws. The most up-to-date reintroduction to Congress was the 2019-2020 time period. In every time period, the invoice was defeated.
The new No PFAS in Cosmetics Act has a extra finite mandate to ban a selected chemical in beauty merchandise. Without the added price construction and extra energy given to the FDA in previous laws, this can be the inroad wanted to start out defending customers. Janet Nudelman, director of the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners’ Campaign for Safe Cosmetics stated:24
“It is beyond outrageous that PFAS chemicals that are contaminating our drinking water and threatening human health because of their links to breast and other cancers, reproductive harm and endocrine disruption are hiding in the beauty and personal care products women use every day.”
Food Packaging and Drinking Water Are Contaminated
Unfortunately, one widespread perception is that if a product is launched available on the market and bought to the general public it should be protected. In 2020, 33 scientists signed a consensus assertion to plead with lawmakers to take “swift action to reduce exposure” to plastics in meals packaging.25,26 In it they included 1,200 peer-reviewed research to assist their assertion. One of these plastics is PFAS.
Nearly 10 years in the past there have been 6,000 licensed chemical compounds that may very well be utilized in meals packaging. Jane Muncke of the Food Packaging Forum, and one of many consensus assertion contributors, states that the most recent quantity is sort of 12,000.27
The Environmental Defense Fund has written concerning the FDA course of that led to the acceptance of plastics in touch with meals. They have clarified just a few misconceptions, a few of which embrace:28
- Manufacturers’ claims that something in touch with meals, akin to PFAS, should be reviewed earlier than being marketed and bought — Actually, producers use a loophole within the “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) rule meant to exempt widespread components akin to vinegar and baking soda, to bypass FDA evaluate of their chemical compounds.
- The FDA requires in-depth toxicology research earlier than permitting chemical compounds in touch with meals available on the market — In actuality, all an organization has to do is present the chemical, toxicological and environmental knowledge it has.
- Manufacturers’ knowledge sheets are clear and concise — On the opposite, in an EDF evaluate of 31 functions accepted by the FDA, the quantity of knowledge diverse, however the toxicity knowledge was constantly poor.
- The FDA frequently opinions product security — The fact is as soon as a meals contact substance is allowed, there isn’t a course of to judge additional proof the chemical could also be harmful, and the company has no responsibility to reassess the choice.
These risks are additionally reaching your consuming water. The EWG commissioned a check in dozens of U.S. cities which confirmed contamination had been dramatically underestimated. EWG scientists imagine the household of PFAS chemical compounds could also be:29
“… detectable in all major water supplies in the U.S., almost certainly in all that use surface water. EWG’s tests also found chemicals from the PFAS family that are not commonly tested for in drinking water.”
A collaboration between Consumer Reports and The Guardian30 analyzed the water provide of 120 individuals who volunteered to ship in water samples from across the U.S. The group represented a cross-section of every of the EPA’s 10 jurisdictional areas. The evaluation confirmed that of the 120 water samples, 118 had excessive ranges of PFAS or arsenic, in addition to detectable ranges of lead.
According to the report from Consumer Reports, filtration techniques exist that may clear the contaminants and “yet they are not being uniformly used by community water systems.”31
An evaluation revealed by the EWG32 confirmed there have been 2,337 websites in 49 states with identified PFAS contamination. Unfortunately, whereas proof continues to mount demonstrating perpetually chemical compounds are hazardous, the EPA is unwilling to guard shopper well being. According to the EWG, the EPA:33
“… recently released a so-called PFAS action plan,42 but it is woefully inadequate. The EPA plan will not address ongoing sources of PFAS pollution, will not clean up legacy pollution and will not even require reporting of toxic PFAS releases.”
Frightening Levels of Forever Chemicals Found in Breast Milk
In one examine revealed in Environmental Science & Technology,34 researchers analyzed PFAS in a gaggle of breastfeeding girls within the U.S. The knowledge have been gathered from a cross-section of socioeconomically and geographically numerous teams of ladies, and but it confirmed PFAS contamination in all samples.
The samples confirmed ranges starting from 50 ppt to greater than 1,850 ppt in girls’s breast milk.35 Even although there aren’t any set requirements for breast milk but, as a comparability, the Environmental Working Group36 advises a goal for consuming water at 1 half per trillion (ppt) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)37 recommends 14 ppt for PFOS (a element of PFAS38) in youngsters’s consuming water.
Evaluating the consequences on infants is tough. Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a co-author of the examine and pediatrician with the University of Washington, spoke with a reporter from The Guardian.39
She stated that research in older youngsters and adults have proven these chemical compounds injury the immune system and create hormonal disruption. This is especially problematic for infants as their immune system will not be but mature.
Evidence from the examine additionally steered the problem with PFAS bioaccumulating in folks is getting worse. As reported in The Guardian, when knowledge from the present examine was in comparison with one spearheaded by the EWG in 2005,40 the researchers discovered there was a rise within the quantity of new-generation PFAS in breastmilk.
How to Avoid Toxic PFAS Chemicals
In May 2015, greater than 200 scientists from 40 international locations signed one other consensus assertion known as the Madrid Statement.41 The scientists warned concerning the potential dangerous results of PFAS, together with associations with liver toxicity, adversarial neurobehavioral results, hypothyroidism and weight problems.
They really useful avoiding all merchandise containing PFAS. You’ll discover extra further useful ideas within the Environmental Working Group Guide to Avoiding PFCS.42 Here are a number of gadgets to keep away from that I’ve steered previously:
Pretreated or stain-repellant therapies — Opt out of therapies on clothes, furnishings and carpeting. Clothing marketed as “breathable” is often handled with polytetrafluoroethylene, an artificial fluoropolymer.
Products handled with flame retardant chemical compounds — This contains furnishings, carpet, mattresses and child gadgets. Instead, go for naturally much less flammable supplies akin to leather-based, wool and cotton.
Fast meals and perform meals — The containers are usually handled.
Microwave popcorn — PFASs could also be current within the inside coating of the bag and should migrate to the oil from the packaging throughout heating. Instead, use “old-fashioned” stovetop non-GMO popcorn.
Nonstick cookware and different handled kitchen utensils — Healthier choices embrace ceramic and enameled forged iron cookware, each of that are sturdy, straightforward to scrub and utterly inert, which implies they received’t launch any dangerous chemical compounds into your private home.
Personal care merchandise containing PTFE or “fluoro” or “perfluoro” components — The EWG Skin Deep database43 is a superb supply to seek for more healthy private care choices.
Unfiltered faucet water — Unfortunately, your decisions are restricted relating to avoiding PFAS in consuming water. Either you should filter your water or get water from a clear supply. Although it’s possible you’ll suppose that choosing bottled water is protected, it’s vital to understand that PFAS will not be regulated in bottled water, so there’s completely no assure that it’ll be free of those or different chemical compounds.
Bottled water additionally will increase your threat of publicity to hazardous plastic chemical compounds akin to bisphenol A, which has its personal set of well being dangers. Most widespread water filters out there in supermarkets is not going to take away PFASs. You really want a high-quality carbon filtration system.