Testing on popular brands of infant bedding, bibs and other products for babies found nearly one third contained toxic PFAS chemicals and there were indicators that all of the products tested could contain PFAS, the Environmental Working Group said this week.
The research organization also found PFAS in pet food packaging, researchers reported.
The findings add to a growing list of household products found to contain these per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down naturally over time. Some types of PFAS have been linked to cancer and other serious health problems. Young children and pets are especially vulnerable to toxic chemicals.
“A greater understanding of the specific sources of where [PFAS] come from helps inform our decisions and understanding of where we can try to avoid exposures,” said Krystal Pollitt, a Yale researcher who has studied PFAS in household dust and was not involved in the EWG assessments.
PFAS at home
PFAS have already been identified in everything from cookware to cosmetics to school uniforms and yoga pants. To find out whether forever chemicals are also lurking in baby textile products and pet food packaging, EWG commissioned an independent laboratory to test for PFAS in 34 baby and children’s textile products. The results showed fluorine, which points to the likely presence of PFAS and can capture PFAS coatings and treatments that specific PFAS tests may miss, in all 34 products.
Ten products were then confirmed to have detectable levels of PFAS. The tests identified an average of 17 PFAS compounds across the ten baby product samples tested for individual PFAS. A bib and two pieces of clothing were found to have particularly high total PFAS levels.
Eleven bags of seven popular pet food brands from popular stores were also tested, finding seven different PFAS compounds in four pet food packaging brands. Purine Cat Chow Complete Chicken had the highest concentration of total PFAS, with about 245 parts per billion (ppb), followed by Kibbles n’ Bits Bacon and Steak flavor, with about 15 ppb total PFAS.
Interestingly, the products with the highest measured levels of total PFAS were not the same as those with the highest levels of total fluorine.
“It just screams at me that there are a large chunk of PFAS that are missing here,” said Pollitt, suggesting there may be other PFAS compounds present that the tests could not measure.