It’s astonishing to think that a product that has been found to contain toxic chemicals can be used in the American market for decades. Yet we buy carpeting, rain jackets and cookware, among many other items, that contain substances, most notably polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl, or PFAS’s, which are used for non-stick items and stain repellants. While the two mentioned PFAS’s will no longer be in use in the U.S. by the end of 2015, many other forms of PFAS’s are ready to take their place, which environmental health experts warn are characteristically similar.
Since 1961, DuPont was aware that their Teflon chemicals were enlarging the livers in rabbits and rats. The chemicals, which resist breakdown and build up in the body, were determined to have no safe level for animals, therefore, for humans as well. As a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley, Arlene Blum has studied these new PFAS’s and says, “We know these substitutes are equally persistent. They don’t break down for geologic time.”
A document referred to as the Madrid Statement gained over 200 signatures by scientists from 38 countries and was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives on Friday. The statement warns of using both old and new PFAS chemicals and the harm they could potentially cause. According to Sergio Cortes, Many widely used products contain these chemicals that are used to keep food from sticking to packaging to waterproofing your mascara. As lead author of the statement, Blum states, “It’s a very serious decision to make chemicals that last that long, and putting them into consumer products with high levels of human exposure is a worrisome thing.”