Innocent until proven guilty, a nonstick nightmare; Perfluorinated Alkylated Substances (PFASs)

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  • Good for a justice system, bad when applied to newfangled chemicals to which humans and other animals are to be routinely exposed.
  • Industrial creations, from food products and supplements to medicines and even medical devices, frequently infiltrate our lives before rigorous, long-term testing is ever done.
  • These chemicals often escape the regulatory scrutiny of medicines or supplements simply because we don’t ingest them.
  • Other times, the complexity of our bodies doesn’t allow us to see if a product is harmful until it’s too late.
  • The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and the newer the product, the higher the burden of proof it should bear before being fed, exposed to, or implanted into people.
  • There are simply too many examples throughout human history where we were wrong.

Perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFASs) are also utterly ubiquitous throughout the modern world.

  • PFASs help repel oil and water, so waterproof clothing, carpeting, upholstery, car parts, sealants, food wrapping papers, firefighting foams, and cookware all exploit the seemingly magical chemical properties of PFAS chemicals.
  • Unfortunately, these chemicals have been identified not just as potent endocrine disruptors, but as possible carcinogens.
  • Animal studies have linked some PFASs with cancers including kidney, prostate, rectal, and testicular.
  • They have also been linked to liver and thyroid problems and abnormal foetal development.
  • Studies have shown that people exposed to higher levels of PFAS chemicals have higher total and LDL cholesterol, and they may make it more difficult to keep weight off after losing weight.

Of course, these chemicals are commonly found in fast food and processed snacks, which can confound such findings.

  • While some of the most well-studied PFAS chemicals have been banned from use by the FDA, about 98 percent of all people still have detectable levels of PFASs in them, which means that we are likely still suffering their effects.
  • Part of the reason for this is that PFAS chemicals linger in the body for years longer than phthalates and BPA.
  • And despite the ban, this hasn’t kept manufacturers from finding chemically similar compounds to replace them with.
  • Consumer awareness has led only to pacification as manufacturers hide newer (and often equally sketchy) chemicals from view.
  • It is nearly impossible to eliminate your exposure to these chemicals today, and chronically stressing about them is not a viable solution for your health.
  • Therefore, cutting down on exposure is a far more attainable goal and one that is less likely to drive you crazy in the process.

Here are some habits that will help:

  • Toss-coated nonstick cookware.

The safest cookware to use is stainless steel (look for versions without nickel), cast iron, and ceramic. Some nonstick pans on the market claim to be PFAS-free, but the jury is still out on their safety.

  • Avoid smooth dental tape.

Dental tape is made using PFAS, which allows it to easily slide between teeth. New research suggests that the PFAS chemicals in the tape are not inert; they can enter circulation and cause health problems. Use floss instead, which is also more effective at cleaning teeth due to its abrasive texture.

  • Avoid stain-resistant carpets, rugs, and furniture.

Though stain resistance can be useful, the PFAS particles in these products can easily become airborne and permeate our bodies. Young children in particular have very high concentrations of these and other chemicals due to their proximity to the floor and frequent hand-to-mouth behaviour. Remember that children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of endocrine disruption.

  • Avoid foods wrapped in paper with a slick inner lining.

These linings keep the papers oil-proof and are commonly used to wrap burgers, burritos, and other convenience foods. Do not store or reheat your foods in these papers.

  • Avoid waterproof products unless you really need them.

Instead, look for coats, hats, boots, and tents labelled “water resistant,” which are less likely to be treated with PFAS chemicals.

  • Use a reverse osmosis water filter.

PFAS chemicals pose a substantial environmental threat, having been identified in drinking water all over the United States. By separating water from its contaminants, a reverse osmosis water filter can remove up to 90 percent of a wide range of PFAS chemicals.


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15 thoughts on “Innocent until proven guilty, a nonstick nightmare; Perfluorinated Alkylated Substances (PFASs)

  1. This is a very grave situation we’re in. Due to the fact that these non-stick products are currently dominating the African market whose consumers associate western products with quality.
    Of courseem there may be versions of thes me that do not contain the PFAs but I seriously doubt that they would find the way into the market.
    We need to get the attention of stakeholders because the life and livelihood of millions of people are at risk

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