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  • By The Financial District

'Eco-Friendly' Kid Products From China Contain Toxic PFAS Chemicals

New research shows many children’s products, including those with green certifications, contain harmful perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that have been used to manufacture thousands of consumer products since the 1940s. Clothing, bedding, and furniture labeled as water- or stain-resistant are most likely to contain PFAS, the Silent Spring Institute (SSI) reported on SciTechDaily.

Photo Insert: The Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that have been used to manufacture thousands of consumer products since the 1940s are considered harmful.

The findings highlight the pervasiveness of PFAS in products and the difficulties consumers face when trying to avoid toxic chemicals in their everyday lives. Studies have linked PFAS with a range of health effects including cancers, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, low birth weight, and asthma.

There is also evidence that PFAS can suppress the immune system, potentially weakening the effectiveness of childhood vaccines and the body’s ability to fight infections.

PFAS are a class of more than 9000 chemicals that companies add to a wide variety of consumer products to make them non-stick, waterproof, and stain-resistant. In addition to items such as carpets, upholstery, and apparel, PFAS are also used in everyday items such as non-stick cookware, food packaging, cosmetics, and even dental floss. Many of these products come from China.

PFAS is a synthetic organofluorine chemical compound that has multiple fluorine atoms attached to an alkyl chain. PFASs are known to persist in the environment and are commonly described as persistent organic pollutants, also known as “forever chemicals.” Residues have been detected in humans and wildlife resulting in serious health concerns.

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“Children’s bodies are still developing and are especially sensitive to chemical exposures,” says co-author Dr. Laurel Schaider, senior scientist at Silent Spring Institute. “It makes sense that parents would want to steer clear of products that contain ingredients that could impact their children’s health now and in the future.”

Reporting in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the Silent Spring team tested 93 different products often used by children and adolescents, including bedding, furnishings, and clothing.

Science & technology: Scientist using a microscope in laboratory in the financial district.

The researchers specifically chose products that were labeled as stain-resistant, water-resistant, “green” or “non-toxic.” They first used a rapid screening method to test the products for fluorine—a marker of PFAS. Fifty-four of the products contained detectable levels of fluorine.

The highest concentration was found in a school uniform shirt. Products advertised as water- or stain-resistant, even those labeled as “green” or “non-toxic,” were more likely to contain fluorine and also have higher concentrations of fluorine compared with other products.

Health & lifestyle: Woman running and exercising over a bridge near the financial district.

The researchers then tested a subset of products for 36 different PFAS chemicals. PFAS were found only in products labeled as water- or stain-resistant, regardless of whether they were marketed as “green” or “non-toxic.”

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