Home Gesundheit Für immer sind Chemikalien überall, aber Sie können Ihr Risiko senken

Für immer sind Chemikalien überall, aber Sie können Ihr Risiko senken

von NFI Redaktion

On February 29, 2024 – Perhaps they should be called „Everywhere Chemicals“ instead of forever chemicals.

In any case, these persistent, everyday substances are used in everything from water bottles to makeup, stain and water-resistant coatings, non-stick cookware, and much more.

They make their way into your drinking water and many of your foods, transforming into toxic dust in your home. With a history of over 80 years, they serve their purpose well, making your new carpet or sofa stain-resistant. However, they are practically indestructible and can contaminate anything they come into contact with.

Most likely, they are in your bloodstream and can harm your health – some of them are related to cancer, immune system suppression, and other illnesses. This month, the medical journal The Lancet published the results of a study linking prenatal phthalate exposure to adverse birth outcomes in the United States.

So what can a consumer do? Is it possible to avoid phthalates?PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances), also known as forever chemicals?

„Sometimes it can be overwhelming,“ says Erica Cirino, Communications Manager of the Plastic Pollution Coalition and author of Thicker Than Water. „On an individual level, you cannot completely eliminate your exposure, but you can minimize it.“

There are signs that times are changing. Just this week, the FDA announced that US companies will no longer use PFAS-containing grease-repellent materials. This change means that fast-food packaging, microwave popcorn bags, and pet food bags no longer contain harmful chemicals. The FDA called the move a win for public health and promises to continue researching risk levels.

„PFAS and food do not mix – just like oil and water. Our lunch should not be packaged in toxic chemicals,“ said Danielle Melgar, an attorney with the consumer advocacy group US PIRG Education Fund, in a statement. „With practically all Americans having PFAS in our bodies and expectant mothers being able to pass PFAS on to their babies, there is no time to waste in eliminating ‚forever chemicals‘ wherever possible. We welcome the FDA’s announcement and this crucial step in eradicating this absurd threat.“

You are what you eat

One of the first places where you can take stock of your persistent chemical exposure is the food you eat and the water you drink. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, water, air, fish, and soil all show varying degrees of contamination by forever chemicals. „It’s hubris to believe that we can release chemicals into the environment and that they won’t contaminate our food sources,“ said Gail Carlson, PhD, Director of the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment at Colby College in Maine.

In many cases, it is unknown if these contamination levels are high enough to harm human health. But you can find out if your tap water is considered safe, said Tasha Stoiber, PhD, Senior Scientist at the Environmental Working Group. „You can check out our drinking water database to see if there are issues in your area,“ she said. „If there are, we recommend a water filter, either a reverse osmosis filter or a carbon filter system.“

Food is another area where you should try to limit your exposure to forever chemicals, and with a few simple steps, you can make a difference. „Look for unpackaged foods with minimal processing,“ said Cirino. If available and affordable, try to buy organic products.

This also includes the products you use for cooking and storing food. Prefer glass over plastic, cast iron or uncoated ceramic over non-stick cookware, and cook at home as much as possible instead of relying on takeout. Testing has found high PFAS levels in food packaging for burgers, beverages, and more, which is one of the reasons why the FDA has been working towards the changes announced this week. When eating takeout, transfer those foods to your own plate as quickly as possible to reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals.

Finally, consider how much seafood you consume. While it is a nutritious choice and has less impact on the environment than beef, shellfish and other fish species contain a high proportion of microplastics. Much remains unknown about how much of this ends up in the human body when consuming seafood.

„It’s like the advice we give to pregnant women regarding seafood and mercury,“ said Carlson. „We assume that seafood has many health benefits, but it also contains chemicals and mercury.“

When it comes to food and water, you cannot permanently avoid chemicals, yet you must nourish your body. The goal is to find a balance between reduction and healthy eating, according to the experts.

At Home

Beyond food and water supply, you can also reduce the use of chemicals in your home permanently through smart shopping decisions.

„When buying new furniture or adding new flooring, opt for hardwood floors“ and avoid products with stain-resistant coatings,“ said Stoiber. „PFAS do not stay in textiles, and over time, these coatings break down and degrade into house dust, exposing you to them. Be sure to vacuum and dust regularly to reduce dust,“ she said.

Clothing is another source of persistent chemical exposure, especially with outdoor gear. Think, for example, of Gore-Tex coatings – great for keeping rain and snow out, but until recently loaded with PFAS. The brand has announced its intent to phase out the use of these chemicals, but it is important to do your homework on all the brands you wear. Opt for natural fabrics like wool and cotton whenever possible and check if your pieces have special coatings.

Products such as cosmetics, personal care items, and even dental floss contain a certain amount of chemicals. As public demand for their removal increases, some brands offer alternatives in this regard.

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