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PFAS have been getting a lot of press lately, none of it good.
While these synthetic chemicals have their uses — like making products waterproof, stain-resistant, or smooth — they’ve also been linked to some wicked health problems. We’re talking kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, low birth weight, and a weakened immune system, to name a few.
Now here’s the really scary part: PFAS are commonly found in products that — gulp — touch our food and — double gulp — our mouths. This includes microwave popcorn bags, nonstick cooking pans, and, according to a recent study, several best-selling brands of dental floss.
So how do you find a floss without PFAS? We’re happy to share that Cocofloss has always been and always will be a 100% PFAS-free dental floss. Just grab a roll and floss fearlessly! Then read on to learn more about the dangers of PFAS, where these pesky chemicals are hiding, and tips for keeping them out of your body and your life.
The acronym PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (don’t make us say that out loud) — a broad class of about 5,000 human-made chemicals. These synthetic substances have been used by a variety of industries since the 1940s, and today are found in everything from cleaning products to stain-proof carpet to fast-food containers.
According to the Environmental Working Group, they’re also found in the blood of 99% of Americans — a fact that really leaves a bad taste in our mouths.
What’s the big deal with a few little chemicals in your omelet pan? For starters, PFAS don’t break down easily. (They’re prized in industrial uses for being practically indestructible). That means these toxins stick around in the environment and stay inside people and animals for a long time — so long that PFAS are often referred to as “forever chemicals.” And we’re not talking BFFs.
So while small exposures are unlikely to cause immediate harm, they can build up over time to create a heightened risk. And because PFAS can be found in so many products and places — including your local drinking water — it’s hard to know exactly how many of these toxins are already floating around in your body. Why on earth would you willingly introduce more?
Want to say pffft! to PFAS? You don’t have to give up everything you love (um, like popcorn). By rethinking a few key behaviors and choices you can limit your exposure to these synthetic supervillains.
Teflon is a type of coating often used in cookware to create a nonstick surface. Unfortunately it contains certain PFAS that release toxic fumes when heated to high temps. And while some PFAS have been phased out of cookware, it’s often impossible to know exactly what’s in older pans. Your best bet: Ditch anything old or damaged, and invest in cast iron or stainless steel.
If you’re absolutely smitten with nonstick cookware, buy pans made in the U.S. and avoid anything produced in countries with laxer standards. Also remember to not put them in the dishwasher — the heat can ruin the surface.
According to Toxic-Free Future, a group that advocates for safer products, almost every brand of microwave popcorn bag tested by the Center for Environmental Health contained PFAS. If you’ve got the mid-movie munchies, try opting for a different crunchy snack. Or pop over to the stove and cook up some old-fashioned popcorn — it’s healthy and fun to make!
The good news for pepperoni lovers: Toxic-Free Future found that most pizza boxes were not treated with PFAS. Odds are high that your favorite pizza joint packs their pies in PFAS-free cardboard, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. The same goes for any take-out container with a smooth coating.
Floss brands that emphasize smooth usage or “glideability” may leave behind more than just plaque. According to a PFAS study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, several of these brands were found to contain fluorine — indicating the presence of potentially harmful PFAS. In the report, flossing with Oral-B Glide was associated with nearly 25% higher levels of a PFAS known as polytetrafluoroethylene.
Don’t want to mix teeth and toxins? Happily, there’s a smarter, smile-worthy solution: Pick a dental floss without PFAS. We at Cocofloss happen to know of a great one ….