Do you buy water or stain-resistant clothing or bedding? You could be exposing yourself to toxins.
From rain jackets to mattress pads, a lot of products these days are marketed as stain or water resistant, but a new report finds that convenience could come with a hidden cost: exposure to toxic, long-lasting chemicals.
The nonprofit group, Toxic Free Future (TFF), tested water and stain resistant-products from ten major U.S. retailers. They found 72% contained Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).
Research has linked PFAS, also found in firefighting foam, to cancer, immune suppression and liver and kidney toxicity. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they never break down naturally.
“Unfortunately, no retailers' product line was totally PFAS free,” says Mike Schade, of TFF. “We found at least one product from each of the 10 retailers contain PFAS.”
MORE: Kane in Your Corner
“I think people like the idea of having something that's stain resistant,” adds Melanie Benesh, of the Environmental Working Group. “It’s a convenience. But that's really a convenience that's been sold to you and without knowledge, that that convenience may come at the price of exposure to a toxic chemical.”
Some shoppers told Kane In Your Corner they were concerned by the report’s findings.
Pram Parik said, “I guess I have to go out and do more shopping for more clothes that are not water resistant or stain resistant.”
Kara Harry added, “I buy a lot of that stuff for my children. They’re all athletes and I definitely wouldn’t want to do that if (the chemicals) could get through their skin.”
TFF says unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell if a product contains PFAS, because the chemicals are rarely mentioned on labels. The group advises shoppers avoid anything marked water or stain-resistant. If that’s not practical, they say you can ask the store or manufacturer if they sell products that don’t contain PFAS. You can also look for products that are Green Screen or GOTS certified. Those certifications indicate the products should have been lab tested and found to be PFAS free.
In 2020, Kane In Your Corner reported on previous research by TFF, which revealed how PFAS in fast food packaging can leak into foods.