You may have seen “ fluor ” or “ PFAS ” listed on the ingredient labels of some of your favorite beauty products. But what do these terms mean, and why are they cause for concern?
Fluorinated ingredients are common in many personal care products, including shampoo, conditioner, cosmetics, and fabric protector sprays. They help repel water and oil, and prevent stains. However, a new study reports that some beauty products with fluorinated ingredients may also contain PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances), a class of man-made chemicals that can be harmful to human health.
PFAS have been linked to a range of health problems, including cancer, endocrine disruption, immune system dysfunction, and reproductive and developmental toxicity. They can also accumulate in the environment and the human body over time, and have been found in food, water, and even breast milk.
While the levels of PFAS found in the products tested in the new study were relatively low, the fact that they were present at all is cause for concern. The study’s authors say that more research is needed to determine the potential health risks of using fluorinated personal care products. In the meantime, they recommend that consumers avoid products that containPFAS, and that manufacturers consider switching to safer ingredients.
Fluorinated chemicals are commonly used in water-repellent, grease-resistant and nonstick products, and have been linked to health hazards such as cancer and hormone disruption. Now, a new study reports that some beauty products containing these chemicals may also contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), a related group of chemicals that are also suspected of posing health risks.
The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, tested 48 beauty products for the presence of fluorinated chemicals. Of these, 43 percent contained at least one fluorinated compound, and 10 percent contained PFASs.
“This is the first study to our knowledge to find PFASs in beauty products,” said study co-author Anna Blum, a research scientist at the Silent Spring Institute, a nonprofit research organization.
PFASs are a group of thousands of man-made chemicals that have been used in a variety of products, including non-stick cookware, Stainmaster carpets and Gore-Tex jackets. They are also found in some food packaging, cleaning products, and in the water supplies of communities near PFAS-manufacturing plants or sites where the chemicals have been used.
Although PFASs have been phased out of production in the United States, they are still used in other countries. And because they do not break down easily in the environment, they can be found in soil and water around the world.
PFASs have been linked to a variety of health problems in humans, including cancer, hormone disruption, and immune system impairment.
While the health effects of most fluorinated chemicals are not well understood, some studies have suggested that they may be harmful. For example, a 2017 study found that women who were exposed to high levels of fluorinated chemicals in pregnancy were more likely to have babies with low birth weights.
The new study provides more evidence that fluorinated chemicals may be harmful to human health. “This study raises concerns because PFASs are linked to several health hazards, and they are found in products that people use every day,” Blum said.
The findings also highlight the need for more research on the health effects of fluorinated chemicals. “There are many unanswered questions about the safety of these chemicals,” Blum said. “It is important to do more research to better understand the potential risks to human health.”