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The PFAS Effect: Understanding the Impact on Human Health and the Environment

 Introduction 

A while ago I wrote an article about how cosmetic products can affect not only your skin but also your health. It delved into the common toxic ingredients (sulphates, parabens, phthalates, triclosan, toluene, etc) found in commercial skincare, body care, intimate care, haircare, makeup, etc and the dangers they pose to your health. You are welcome to read the article here, it's very insightful and contain a section of an article which was written and reviewed by scientists. I'm nothing if not dedicated to providing facts!

Just when I thought I knew everything there was to know about toxic ingredients, I received an email from a lady at consumernotice.org who wanted to make me aware of the dangers of PFAS ingredients so that I can make you aware.


Image borrowed from mavink.com

I must admit, when I read the articles she shared with me, I was stunned that there is a whole other group of really toxic ingredients! Reading how PFAS negatively impacts everything, from human health, to animals, to the environment made my blood boil! You are welcome to read those articles here about PFAS in cosmetics and here about PFAS in commercial and household Items and the effect on the environment.

Since reading those articles, I have done extensive research of my own on PFAS and the dangers they pose. Which I will share with you shortly.

Before I start, let me remind you that every single product I have formulated and am still busy formulating, is conscientiously done with your health and the environment in mind. None of the products at christinashealthandbeauty.com contain any harmful ingredients, that is a promise I made myself a decade ago when I first started and one that I will never break. Your health and the environment's health is my number one priority. That is a guarantee!

Pay close attention when you read the following and make smarter choices for yourself and the environment! 

Be prepared to be just as shocked as I was!

The PFAS Effect: Understanding the Impact on Human Health and the Environment

Image borrowed from pfasfreeproducts.com

PFAS stands for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances which consist of over 4,700 synthetic, toxic, forever chemicals used in a wide range of products. The first of these chemicals, polytetrafluorethylene, were accidentally made/discovered in 1938 by chemist Roy J. Plunkett, but proved to be very useful. So useful in fact that soon what started out as one chemical, turned into over 4,700 PFAS chemicals used all over the world!
Before I share with you the products they are found in, let me first share with you that PFAS chemicals are called forever chemicals because they can take up to 1000 years to break down in the environment and continues leeching toxins into the environment during that time. Not to mention that these chemicals can stay in animals and people for years, sometimes decades. In that time, it leeches and lurks and builds up, causing all kinds of serious health issues. Below is a list of the dangers PFAS pose to human health:

Impact on Human Health

Image borrowed from www.blg.com

Cancer
:
Testicular cancer
Kidney cancer
Thyroid cancer
Pancreatic cancer
Breast cancer 
Increased risk of various other types of cancer

Reproductive issues:
Reduced fertility
Increased risk of pregnancy complications
Low birth weight
Preterm birth
Endometriosis 
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) 

Thyroid problems:
Increased risk of thyroid disease
Thyroid hormone disruption
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
Thyroid autoimmune disorders

Immune system dysfunction:
Weakened immune system
Increased risk of infections
Autoimmune disorders (e.g., lupus, rheumatoid arthritis)
Allergic reactions and hypersensitivity
Impaired vaccine efficacy

Hormone disruption:
Estrogen and testosterone imbalance
Disruption of puberty development
Menstrual irregularities
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) 
Endometriosis 

Neurological problems: PFAS have been linked to ADHD, autism, and reduced cognitive function.
Cardiovascular disease: Exposure to PFAS may increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Obesity and metabolic disorders: PFAS have been linked to changes in metabolism, insulin resistance, and obesity.
Gastrointestinal issues: Exposure to PFAS may lead to inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and other gastrointestinal problems.
Asthma and respiratory issues: PFAS may exacerbate asthma and other respiratory conditions.
Neonatal and infant health problems: PFAS exposure during pregnancy has been linked to low birth weight, preterm birth, and infant health issues.
Osteochondrosis and bone health: PFAS may affect bone development and density, leading to conditions like osteochondrosis.
Endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Some research suggests a link between PFAS exposure and these reproductive health conditions.
Vaccine efficacy and immune system suppression: PFAS may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines and suppress the immune system.
Dental problems: PFAS have been linked to dental and other oral health issues.

Now that you know how PFAS can harm you, here is a breakdown of products, household and industrial items where they might be present:


Image borrowed from manainfinito.com

Cosmetics:

Image borrowed from ecommercialplastics.com

Foundation:
Liquid foundation: May contain PFAS for smooth texture and water-resistance.
Cream foundation: May contain PFAS for texture and durability.
Powder foundation: Less likely to contain PFAS, but may be present in some formulations.

Mascara:
Water-resistant or waterproof mascara: Likely to contain PFAS for water-repelling properties.
Non-waterproof mascara: Less likely to contain PFAS, but may still be present in some formulations.

Lip balm:
Lip balms with water-resistance or long-lasting claims: May contain PFAS for texture and durability.
Traditional lip balms: Less likely to contain PFAS, but may still be present in some formulations.

Eyeliner:
Liquid eyeliner: May contain PFAS for smooth texture and water-resistance.
Gel eyeliner: May contain PFAS for texture and durability.
Pencil eyeliner: Less likely to contain PFAS, but may still be present in some formulations.

Concealer:
Some concealers contain PFAS to create a smooth, creamy texture and improve blendability.

Powder: Some setting powders, mineral powders, and pressed powders may contain PFAS to enhance their water-resistance and texture.

Blush: Certain blush products, especially cream or gel formulas, may contain PFAS to improve their texture and durability.

Highlighter: Some liquid or cream highlighters contain PFAS to create a smooth, even application and enhance their shine.

Brow products: Certain brow pomades, brow gels, or brow powders may contain PFAS to improve their texture and water-resistance.

Eyeshadow: Some cream or gel eyeshadows may contain PFAS to enhance their texture and durability.

Makeup primers: Some makeup primers contain PFAS to create a smooth, even surface for makeup application.

Setting sprays: Certain setting sprays may contain PFAS to help keep makeup in place and improve their water-resistance.

But wait! Before you think that’s all for cosmetics. Below are the rest of the beauty/self-care products that are affected by PFAS:


Body Care:
Body washes and cleansers
Exfoliating scrubs
Body lotions and creams
Sunscreens
Self-tanning products

Skincare:
Face creams and moisturizers
Serums and essences
Eye creams
Face masks
Acne treatments

Haircare:
Shampoos and conditioners
Hair masks and treatments
Styling products (e.g., pomades, hair waxes)
Hair dyes and colorants
Hair straightening and smoothing treatments

Other products:
Dental floss and mouthwash
Nail polish and nail care products
Perfumes and fragrances
Tattoo ink
Cosplay and special effects makeup

In cosmetics, including skincare, body care, haircare and cosplay/special effects makeup, PFAS are often used for their waterproofing, moisturizing, skin gliding and anti-aging properties.
But the long-term harm they can do to your body and the environment far outweigh any short-term benefits they may have.

When researching PFAS in cosmetics, look for ingredients that end in "-fluor" or "-perfluor," such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).

The following information might be quite shocking to you but there's no way around it, I want you to be aware and hopefully you will check product labels and ditch products containing PFAS or other harmful chemicals. 

Some cosmetic companies that have been found to use PFAS in their formulations include:
Maybelline (L'Oréal)
L'Oréal Paris
Estee Lauder
Clinique
MAC Cosmetics
Nars
Urban Decay
Benefit Cosmetics
NYX Professional Makeup
Glossier
Sephora Collection

Just be aware that there might be more smaller companies using PFAS in their products, check those labels!!!

Some companies that have committed to being PFAS-free or have made significant progress in removing PFAS from their products include:

Burt's Bees: Commits to using natural ingredients and avoids PFAS in their products.
Beautycounter: Advocates for safer beauty standards and prohibits PFAS in their formulations.
W3LL PEOPLE: Focuses on natural, non-toxic ingredients and avoids PFAS in their products.
Dr. Bronner's: Uses organic and natural ingredients, and their soaps and lotions are PFAS-free.
Lush: Commits to using natural, ethical ingredients and avoids PFAS in their products.
The Body Shop: Has a commitment to sustainability and ethical sourcing, and many products are PFAS-free.
Badger: Uses natural, organic ingredients and avoids PFAS in their products.
Lavera: Commits to using natural, organic ingredients and avoids PFAS in their products.

When in doubt, always check the ingredient labels or contact the company directly to ask about their PFAS policy. 

                                                                                                                                   

I know the cosmetic section was a lot to take in
but please bear with me, it’s better to be informed than uninformed. Next Up is a whole lot of different products from food packaging to clothing which may be treated with PFAS for waterproofing/oil proofing or various other uses:

Food packaging:
Paper wrappers for burgers and fries: These may be treated with PFAS to prevent grease from leaking through.
Molded fiber salad bowls: These bowls may contain PFAS to prevent food from leaking through.
Paper bags for takeout: Some paper bags may be treated with PFAS to prevent grease from leaking through.
Microwave popcorn bags: The lining of these bags may contain PFAS to prevent the popcorn from sticking to the bag.
Pizza boxes: Some pizza boxes may be treated with PFAS to prevent grease from leaking through.
Food trays: Some food trays, such as those used for fried foods, may contain PFAS to prevent food from sticking to the tray.

Some companies that have committed to reducing or eliminating PFAS in their food packaging include:

McDonald's: Committed to phasing out PFAS by 2025
Burger King: Committed to reducing PFAS in their packaging
Cava: Committed to eliminating PFAS in their packaging
Chipotle: Committed to avoiding PFAS in their packaging
Panera Bread: Committed to avoiding PFAS in their packaging
Sweetgreen: Committed to eliminating PFAS in their packaging
Whole Foods Market: Committed to avoiding PFAS in their packaging

Waterproof Clothing & Gear:
Rain jackets and pants: Many waterproof and breathable jackets and pants, like those from The North Face, Patagonia, or Columbia, may contain PFAS to repel water and stains.
Waterproof gloves: Gloves designed for activities like fishing, sailing, or skiing may contain PFAS to keep hands dry and warm.
Waterproof shoes and boots: Some waterproof shoes and boots, like those from Gore-Tex or eVent, may contain PFAS to prevent water entry.
Snow pants and jackets: Ski and snowboard clothing often contains PFAS to repel snow and water.
Tents and camping gear: Some waterproof tents and camping gear may contain PFAS to repel water and stains.
Waterproof bags and backpacks: Bags and backpacks designed for water sports or outdoor activities may contain PFAS to keep gear dry.
Waterproof phone cases and accessories: Some phone cases and accessories, like waterproof phone pouches or tablet cases, may contain PFAS to repel water.

Not all waterproof clothing contains PFAS, and some brands are now offering PFAS-free alternatives. Always check the product labels or contact the manufacturer to confirm.

Non-stick cookware:
Teflon: The original non-stick coating, introduced in the 1940s, contains PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), a type of PFAS.
Non-stick pans with PTFE coatings: Many non-stick pans, including some under the brands T-fal, Calphalon, and All-Clad, contain PTFE coatings that may include PFAS.
Some ceramic-coated pans: While ceramic coatings are generally PFAS-free, some may contain PFAS due to the manufacturing process or other factors.

Some non-stick cookware brands that have committed to reducing or eliminating PFAS include:
GreenPan: Offers PTFE-free and ceramic-coated options.
All-Clad: Has introduced PFAS-free non-stick coatings in some products.
Calphalon: Offers PFAS-free non-stick coatings in some products.

When shopping for non-stick cookware, look for labels like "PFOA-free" or "PTFE-free" and opt for ceramic-coated or cast iron alternatives to minimize exposure to PFAS.

Industrial:
Firefighting foam: PFAS are used in firefighting foam due to their ability to effectively extinguish fires.
Food processing equipment: Some food processing equipment, like microwave popcorn bags and pizza boxes, may contain PFAS.
Textiles and upholstery: Waterproof, stain-resistant, and non-stick textiles and upholstery may contain PFAS
Fire-resistant clothing: Fire-resistant clothing, like firefighter gear, may contain PFAS.
Semiconductors and electronics: PFAS are used in the manufacturing of semiconductors and other electronic components.
Aircraft and aerospace materials: PFAS are used in some aircraft and aerospace materials due to their non-stick and fire-resistant properties.
Medical devices: Some medical devices, like catheters and guidewires, may contain PFAS.
Oil and gas extraction equipment: PFAS are used in some oil and gas extraction equipment due to their non-stick and fire-resistant properties.
Construction materials:
Some construction materials, like waterproof membranes, waterproofing agents, sealants, adhesives, roofing materials and insulation materials may contain PFAS.

Paints:
Some water-resistant and stain-resistant paints may contain PFAS.
Fire-resistant paints used in industrial settings may also contain PFAS.
Bricks:
Some bricks may be treated with PFAS-containing coatings or sealants to improve water resistance.
Bricks made from certain types of clay or manufactured with specific processes might naturally contain trace amounts of PFAS.
However, it's essential to note that not all paints or bricks contain PFAS. The presence of PFAS depends on various factors, such as the manufacturer, product formulation, and materials used.

When working with building materials or paints, it's a good idea to check the product labels or manufacturer information to see if they contain PFAS. If you're concerned about PFAS exposure, consider choosing alternative products or materials that are labeled as PFAS-free.

Impact on the Environment


Image borrowed from commons.wikimedia.org

Sealife:
Bioaccumulation: PFAS have been found in aquatic organisms, including fish, shellfish, and other seafood, and can accumulate in their bodies, affecting their development, reproduction, and survival.
Toxic effects: PFAS have been shown to be toxic to aquatic organisms, causing changes in their physiology, behavior, and ecology.

Wildlife:
Reduced immune system function
Decreased reproductive health
Changes in physiology, behaviour, and ecology
Increased risk of cancer and other diseases
Disruption of nutrient cycles and ecosystem function
Bioaccumulation: PFAS have been found in the bodies of animals, including birds, mammals, and reptiles, and can accumulate in their tissues, affecting their development, reproduction, and survival.
Toxic effects: PFAS have been shown to be toxic to animals, causing changes in their physiology, behavior, and ecology.

Plants:
Uptake: PFAS have been shown to be taken up by plants, potentially affecting their growth, development, and ecology.
Accumulation: PFAS have been found to accumulate in plant tissues, potentially affecting their nutritional value and ecosystem function.

Environment in general:
Persistence: PFAS persist in the environment, not breaking down naturally, and can accumulate over time, causing long-term ecosystem damage.
Contamination: PFAS have been found in soil, water, and air, potentially affecting ecosystem function and human health.
Bioaccumulation: PFAS have been found to bioaccumulate in food chains, potentially affecting ecosystem function and human health.
Toxic effects: PFAS have been shown to be toxic to ecosystems, causing changes in their function, biodiversity, and ecology.

Here are some ways to reduce PFAS exposure to yourself and the environment:
Choose PFAS-free products
Use non-stick cookware alternatives
Filter drinking water
Avoid food packaging with PFAS or immediately transfer your food over to packaging you trust - like glass containers.
Support PFAS-free manufacturers
Advocate for policy changes

Hope this information was helpful. Please be vigilant, there are companies offering PFAS free alternatives to all of the abovementioned contaminated products.

Some more reading material below if you want to learn more:
Dangerous PFAS Chemicals Are in Your Food Packaging - Consumer Reports
PFAS: A guide to chemicals behind nonstick pans, cancer fears (usatoday.com)
PFAS: forever chemicals—persistent, bioaccumulative and mobile. Reviewing the status and the need for their phase out and remediation of contaminated sites | Environmental Sciences Europe | Full Text (springeropen.com)
PFAS Exposure for People and Wildlife - The National Wildlife Federation Blog (nwf.org)
Our Current Understanding of the Human Health and Environmental Risks of PFAS | US EPA
Toxics | Free Full-Text | PFAS Molecules: A Major Concern for the Human Health and the Environment (mdpi.com)
Timeline of events related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances - Wikipedia

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Love ♥

Christina Rohl
Founder, Director and CEO
Christina's Health and Beauty


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