Friday, July 15, 2022

What Are The "Forever Chemicals" (PFAS) And How Do They Affect Kids?


"Forever chemicals" seem to be everywhere, especially in our air, soil and water and even in clothing for kids -  putting kids' health at risk. This according to a recently publicized  study.   The term applies to polyfluoroalkyls - abbreviated PFAS - and among the worst contaminations in Colorado history have been found south of the Springs in the Security-Widefield, Fountain area. 

 Residents subjected to a particular sub set of these PFAS chemicals - PFOS,  PFOA, PFHxS and PFHpA-  have been found to suffer a higher incidence of liver, kidney and prostate cancers.   State-backed water testing in the Fountain creek watershed alone has found PFAS at levels ranging from 150 parts per trillion to 1,600 parts per trillion.   These levels would affect more than 50,000 people living south of Colorado Springs.   But this is only a sample and the actual potential numbers affected could be 100 times greater.  

Now a new study by Kathryn Rodgers, a Ph.D. student in Environmental Health at Boston University, 

sheds new light on the extent of PFAS damage to humans, especially kids.These PFAS chemicals, in fact, are all all around us - they are found in plastic food packaging, non-stick cookware, water resistant clothing and fire fighting foams. So they are not just from the dozens of fracking chemicals, though these can disperse the PFAS chemicals into soil, water and the air we breathe and also they can bioaccumulate  in animals.

Given all this, it shouldn't be a surprise that the PFAS toxins have been detected in the blood of over 98 percent of Americans tested  and in the furthest reaches of planet Earth.  This chemical scourge is by no means benign and accounts for  wide range of health problems  such as liver, kidney, breast and prostate cancers as well as increased serum cholesterol in the blood. 

But the most impacting effects may well be in children exposed to PFAS, including vaccine resistance.  Naturally the PFAS effects on kids is of greater concern given their small mass, so chemicals have proportionally greater impacts.  In addition kids' changing hormone levels and physiology makes them more susceptible to negative effects.  Indeed a recent  review of children’s exposure to PFAS and the health effects   found correlations between age of 1st menstruation and PFAS levels in the blood. Also changes in kidney function and dyslipidemia  which puts kids at greater risk of cardiovascular problems.

Rodgers' study  looked at 93 products used by children or adolescents that fell into three broad product types: apparel, bedding and furnishings. Initial tests showed that 54 of those products had measurable levels of total fluorine, indicating the presence of PFAS. Our study partners at Alpha Analytical then tested those products for 36 individual PFAS.

Her team of collaborators also found that products advertised as water- and stain-resistant were more likely than other products to have detectable levels of total fluorine and higher levels of PFAS, though not all of them included PFAS. None of the other products had detectable levels of the PFAS chemicals that we tested for, though some had measurable levels of total fluorine.

Water- or stain-resistant products advertised as “green” or “nontoxic” had similar detections of PFAS and total fluorine levels to water- or stain-resistant products without any green assurances.  The product categories that had the highest measurements of PFAS were clothing, including school uniforms; pillow and mattress protectors; and upholstery from children’s furniture.

Not specifically mentioned in he study is that exposure to PFAS compounds-   i.e. from fracking chemicals-   can include volatile PFAS that can be inhaled. Additionally, other studies have shown that with wear and washing, PFAS can leach out of durable or functional textiles, leading to increased potential for exposure and environmental contamination.  

More parents need to be aware of these toxins and monitor their kids' health for any serious changes, or cancers.  The prevalence of PFAS chemicals in all our bodies is bad enough but to have them ravaging kids is inexcusable.  

See Also:

Hazardous “forever chemicals” used in Colorado for fracking, report says

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