How Forever Chemicals Affect Our Health
Forever chemicals are a group of synthetic compounds that have been widely used for decades in various consumer and industrial products. They are called "forever" because they do not break down easily in the environment or in our bodies. They can accumulate over time and cause various health problems.
What are forever chemicals?
Forever chemicals are also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). They are man-made chemicals that have unique properties, such as resistance to heat, water, oil and stains. They are used in many products, such as non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, food packaging, stain-resistant carpets and cosmetics.
How do we get exposed to forever chemicals?
We can get exposed to forever chemicals through different sources, such as:
- Drinking water: Some drinking water sources may be contaminated by PFAS from industrial sites, landfills or firefighting foams.
- Food: Some food items may contain PFAS from packaging materials, processing equipment or environmental contamination.
- Consumer products: Some products that we use daily may contain PFAS, such as dental floss, shampoo, sunscreen and makeup.
- Air: Some indoor and outdoor air may contain PFAS from emissions or dust.
How do forever chemicals affect our health?
Forever chemicals can affect our health in various ways. Some of the possible effects include:
- Hormone disruption: Forever chemicals can interfere with our endocrine system and affect our hormones. This can lead to reproductive problems, developmental delays and metabolic disorders.
- Immune suppression: Forever chemicals can weaken our immune system and make us more vulnerable to infections and diseases. They can also reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.
- Brain damage: Forever chemicals can cross the blood-brain barrier and affect our brain function. They can cause neurotoxicity, behavioral changes and cognitive impairment.
- Cancer: Forever chemicals can increase the risk of certain types of cancer, such as kidney cancer, testicular cancer and thyroid cancer.
How can we protect ourselves from forever chemicals?
There is no easy way to avoid exposure to forever chemicals completely. However, there are some steps that we can take to reduce our exposure and protect our health:
- Choose safer products: Look for products that are labeled as PFAS-free or PFOA-free. Avoid using non-stick cookware or bakeware that may contain PFAS. Use glass or stainless steel containers instead of plastic ones for food storage.
- Filter your water: Use a certified water filter that can remove PFAS from your tap water. Check the EWG's Tap Water Database (https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/) to see if your water is contaminated by PFAS.
- Eat healthy food: Choose organic food whenever possible. Avoid eating processed food or fast food that may contain PFAS from packaging materials. Wash your fruits and vegetables before eating them.
- Support regulation: Contact your local representatives and urge them to support stricter regulation of PFAS production and use. Support organizations that advocate for clean water and environmental justice.
Forever chemicals are a serious threat to our health and environment. We need to be aware of their sources and effects and take action to reduce our exposure. Together, we can make a difference for ourselves and future generations.