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What on earth is PFAS?

7 facts you might not know about PFAS


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are chemicals that are effective at repelling grease, water, and stains from various surfaces. 


PFAS are found in cosmetics, waterproofing products, ski wax, performance wear, candy wrappers, and non-stick frying pans. 


Research indicates that PFAS are carcinogenic. 


PFAS are called "forever chemicals" because they are extremely difficult for nature to break down. 


A scratch in a non-stick frying pan that contains PFAS releases over 9,000 toxic nanoparticles into your food. 


There are over 10,000 variants of PFAS chemicals, and more are being developed all the time. 


PFAS are in the process of being banned by the EU, but nothing has yet been legislated. 

  • Is PFAS bad for the environment?  

    Afraid so. PFAS are often called "forever chemicals" because they do not break down in the environment and can accumulate over time. They can contaminate soil, water, and air during their production and use. PFAS are also bio accumulative, meaning they can concentrate up the food chain, posing risks to wildlife and humans.  

  • How is PFAS released into the environment? 

    PFAS are released into the environment through industrial emissions, use and disposal of consumer products, and firefighting foams, contaminating air, water, and soil. They can also enter water bodies via wastewater and spread to agricultural soils through treated sewage sludge used as fertilizer. Scary, right?!  

What kind of health effects does PFAS have?  

Long time exposure to PFAS has been linked to a variety of health issues, including increased cholesterol levels, changes in liver enzymes, decreased vaccine response in children, increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, developmental effects or delays in children, increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer, and immune system effects. 

How do I know if a product contains PFAS?  

To determine if a product contains PFAS, check the ingredients list for terms like PTFE, polytef, or any phrases containing “perfluoro-” and “polyfluoro-”. Additionally, look for certifications or manufacturer claims on labels stating the product is "PFAS-free" or does not contain specific PFAS chemicals. 

How to avoid consuming PFAS

To minimize PFAS intake through diet, it's important to be aware of potential sources of contamination. Besides avoiding fish and shellfish from contaminated lakes, particularly in Sweden where crayfish are known to have high PFAS levels, you should also consider the following: 

- Limit consumption of processed foods, as packaging materials may contain PFAS. 

- Reduce intake of conventionally grown produce, which might be exposed to PFAS-contaminated soil or water. 

- Check for advisories on local and imported seafood since water bodies worldwide can be contaminated with PFAS. 

- Be cautious with meat and dairy products, as animals can accumulate PFAS from their environment and feed. 

- Kitchen products (frying pans, oven dishes, pots, and baking molds) with non-stick coatings where the manufacturer does not clearly state that they are produced without the PFAS acronym (PFOS or PFOA are not sufficient).

- Cosmetics and skincare products that contain PFAS. 

- Most water repellents. 

- Water and weather-resistant garments and functional clothing that contain PFAS. 

- Many types of ski wax. 

- Take-away containers made of cardboard where you can see oil "beading" up. 

- Be cautious with firefighting foam. 

Short term - nothing. Longterm and repeatedly ingesting PFAS can lead to a variety of health issues due to their persistence and bioaccumulation in the human body. Some of the documented effects include: 

- Increased cholesterol levels. 

- Changes in liver enzymes and liver function. 

- Decreased vaccine response in children, indicating effects on the immune system. 

- Developmental effects such as low birth weight and reduced fetal growth. 

- Potential increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer based on animal studies and some epidemiological data. 

- Hormonal disruptions and potential reproductive problems.