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Forever Chemicals: What Are They & Why Do They Matter?

Forever Chemicals: What Are They & Why Do They Matter?
Jamie Haleva
Community User9 months ago
View Jamie Haleva's profile

In today's day and age, it is difficult to avoid toxins and chemicals. With society at the peak of industrialization, there are various harmful substances humans are exposed to— some doing more damage than others. One specific group of chemicals that has been getting much attention lately is forever chemicals. Let's see what the experts are saying about these prominent substances and what you need to know.

What Are Forever Chemicals?

Pre- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, also known as PFAS or "Forever chemicals", are man-made chemicals that are used for many of our everyday products. You can find these substances just about anywhere—they are mainly used to make stain-, water-, and heat-resistant products. The compounds are called forever chemicals because they don't break down easily, and can linger in both the environment and the human body for years. You can find forever chemicals in products like:

  • Non-stick cookware
  • Cosmetics like waterproof mascara
  • Food packaging like takeout containers
  • Carpets
  • Furniture

A 2021 study done by the Environmental Science and Technology Letters journal screened 231 cosmetic products purchased in the US and Canada for forever chemicals, specifically fluorine. They found that foundations, mascaras, and lip products had the highest levels of fluorine. Additionally, the ingredient lists of most of the products tested did not include fluorinated compounds, which means these chemicals may be present in many products without consumer knowledge.

Why Are Forever Chemicals Dangerous?

Forever chemicals pose a threat to humans because they are linked to various severe ailments including cancer, birth defects, development issues in infants, and malfunctioning of the liver, kidneys, and immune system. The chemicals also may be involved in the development of obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Even though these chemicals are only used in the production of specific items like non-stick cookware or cosmetics, because they don't break down easily, they quickly contaminate our environment by getting into the air, soil, and food chain. This means that humans are highly exposed to forever chemicals, with a major source of exposure being water. Approximately 200 million Americans are drinking water containing forever chemicals.

Are There Any Government Policies Against Forever Chemicals?

While there are thousands of forever chemicals that are still being used to create everyday products, The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has currently focused its attention on the contamination of water. In March of this year, the EPA proposed to establish legal limits for six major PFAS chemicals that are known to contaminate drinking water.

The EPA also created the PFAS Strategic Roadmap in 2021, which includes timelines by which the EPA must adhere to take action against PFAS violations to protect communities.

Unfortunately, there are still high amounts of pollution in the environment from forever chemicals, and although they pose a threat, these substances have not yet been banned in everyday products and a legal limit for water has not yet been established.

How Can You Avoid Them?

If you would like to take extra caution and avoid forever chemicals, there are a few steps you can take to limit your exposure. These include avoiding non-stick cookware and opting for homemade food rather than takeout, checking your clothing labels for "PFAS-free" or "PFC-free", and avoiding cosmetics with chemicals that have"fluoro" or PTFE in their names.

Since water is a major source of contamination for humans, a helpful first step would be to check your local water supply for PFAS contamination. The easiest way to do this is by using the EWG database. With this database, you can search for your state and town to see levels of forever chemicals as well as other contaminants in your local water supply, and how they compare to health guideline standards. 

If you find that your water supply has a concerning amount of forever chemicals, a simple solution that can help decrease exposure is getting a water filter for your home. POU or point-of-use filters can be effective in reducing chemical contamination in drinking water. These are the filters you attach to your faucet or shower head like the Pur faucet system or Brita.

There is also the option to purchase whole-house filters which will filter the water supply of your entire house, so you won't need individual filters on faucets. Here’s what the CDC advises when buying water filters:

  1. Read the label to see which chemicals it filters out.
  2. Look for an NSF (Public Health and Safety Organization) certification.
  3. Don’t assume water filters remove all bacteria, most don’t.

Check out the NSF's list of recommended water filters.

Take Home Message

PFAS or forever chemicals are a growing concern as the public is gaining more information about the potential danger and prevalence of these chemicals. If you're worried about forever chemicals, there are steps you can take to protect yourself including avoiding products that contain them and using a water filter in your home. Learn more about forever chemicals here.

Myprotein is dedicated to delivering the highest quality products to our consumers through our commitment to using the finest ingredients, rigorous in-house testing, and adherence to strict European and global standards, ensuring customer satisfaction worldwide. Learn more about our process here. 

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Jamie Haleva
Community User
View Jamie Haleva's profile

A Rutgers University Honors graduate, Jamie grew up on the Jersey shore and double majored in Comparative Literature and Anthropology in college. Jamie is an experienced writer in the health and wellness, biotech, and eCommerce fields. She loves writing with a purpose and has even written for the Department of Justice.

Jamie became drawn to exercise during her time in university and began to notice the physical and mental benefits of moving your body daily. Today, Jamie enjoys Pilates, light weight training, and going on long walks in nature daily.

Jamie is also passionate about eating right and prioritizing gut health and immunity. She is always trying the next innovation in health and wellness. When she’s not writing articles, Jamie enjoys reading, playing guitar, and finding dogs to play with.