Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’ Lurking in Children’s Textiles, Pet Food Packaging
New independent testing commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found the substances known as forever chemicals for their persistence in the environment and the body in popular brands of pet food and textiles marketed to children and babies.
“It’s almost impossible to avoid PFAS, because as these tests confirm, they’re prevalent in all aspects of our daily lives,” EWG science analyst and project Sydney Evans said in a press release. “The PFAS coating on these products wears off and gets into dust that can be ingested by children and pets.”
PFAS are a class of around 12,000 chemicals that are commonly used in stain-, heat- or water-resistant products, according to The Guardian. They are considered dangerous because they have been linked to a number of health problems including cancer, kidney and liver disease and birth defects. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of these chemicals in part because they are still growing and developing and in part, because their smaller size means they are exposed to larger relative amounts than adults, EWG said. Pets have also been shown to develop health problems from chemical exposures much more quickly than humans because they both grow and age faster, EWG further reported in 2008.
Pet Food PFAS
In results published Thursday, EWG tested 11 pet food packages from seven popular brands found at major retailers including Walmart. The nonprofit first had the products tested for fluorine, which is an indicator that PFAS might be present. Fluorine was found in all of the 11 products. The four products with the highest fluoride concentrations were then tested for specific PFAS, and all of these tests came back positive as well.
The package for the cat food Meow Mix, Tender Centers Salmon & White Meat Chicken had two PFAS at 5.5 parts per billion (ppb). The package for Purina Cat Chow Complete Chicken at six PFAS at 244.7 ppb.
For dog food, the package for Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe contained one PFAS at 1.7 ppb and the Kibbles n’ Bits Bacon and Steak packaging contained two PFAS at 14.3 ppb.
The PFAS were likely added to the packaging to make them more grease-resistant, according to The Guardian. There isn’t any major company that has pledged to make PFAS-free pet food packaging.
Children’s Textile Toxins
EWG also tested 34 baby and child textile products for fluorine including bedding, nursing pillows, clothing, bibs and soft toys. They then tested the 10 products with the most fluorine for PFAS and found the chemicals in all of these. The 10 products were four types of clothing, three types of bedding, two bibs and a snack bag. The products with the highest PFAS concentrations were one of the bibs followed by one of the clothing items.
Parents hoping to protect their children can avoid products that are labeled spill-proof or stain-, water- or grease-resistant. However, ultimately PFAS are too prevalent in children’s products to make avoiding them the responsibility of parents alone.
“Without regulation of PFAS uses or requirements for labeling, it’s nearly impossible for parents to shop their way out of this crisis – and they shouldn’t be responsible for doing that, in any event. We need to start holding companies accountable for using toxic forever chemicals in our children’s products,” Evans said in the press release.