Keeping yourself safe from forever chemicals

Although PFAS can be present in many products and it doesn’t have to be listed on labelling, you can limit your potential exposure:

  • Be wary of anything non-stick, stain-resistant and waterproof, and when you buy furnishings such as couches, drapes and carpets, check that they don’t have stain-resistant coatings on them.
  • When you head into the big outdoors, opt for traditional rain jackets rather than tramping clothing made from products like Gore-Tex.
  • Look for products labelled “PFAS-free” or “PFC-free” but be wary of products that state that they are “PFOA-free” or “PFOS-free” as this can often mean that another potentially harmful type of PFAS has been used instead.
  • Stay away from microwaveable popcorn in a bag. Pop your own from kernels or buy ready-made.
  • When purchasing products, take into consideration their end of life. Will they go to landfill, and could they contain harmful chemicals that will contaminate soil and waterways?
  • When it comes to our exposure to chemicals in general, ecotoxicologist Louis Tremblay advises thinking about what is essential. “Ask yourself, ‘Do I need this? We use a lot of chemicals, and the more you reduce your exposure, the better,” he says.
  • Buy products from companies that have committed to not using PFAS or use your market voice and request that retailers only sell products without them. Locally, there’s Bremworth, Allbirds and Briscoes. International companies that don’t use PFAS include Levis Strauss & Co, Esprit, Burberry, H&M, Zara, Adidas, Keen footwear, Reebok, Ikea and Sephora. For a more complete list, visit pfascentral.org/pfas-free-products.
  • Although research is still emerging about PFAS and cosmetics, avoid products with “perfluoro” on the list of ingredients, and be cautious about using cosmetics with formulations that make them long-wearing, water-resistant, waterproof or sweat-proof.

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