A Consumer’s Guide to PFAS: Side-Stepping ‘Forever Chemicals’ In Your Daily Life

Published May 8, 2024

Categories

Food SystemClean Water

PFAS are linked to a large range of health problems including cancers. Use our guide to minimize your exposure to these "forever chemicals."

You’ve probably heard about PFAS in the news and by now, have learned that they’re a major health concern. But many still don’t know just what PFAS are or how to avoid them.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a class of thousands of toxic lab-made chemicals pervasive in consumer goods, such as nonstick cookware and stain-resistant carpets. They are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not readily break down in the environment.

PFAS have been linked to a large range of health problems including various cancers, altered hormone levels, decreased birth weights, digestive inflammation, and reduced vaccine response. New research comes out almost every day that indicates no amount is safe.

Use our guide below to minimize your exposure to PFAS, and share it with all of your friends.

PFAS Consumer Guide
Item & Problem Avoid Alternative Look for pfas-free certification
from these labels
Drinking Water
Problem: PFAS are often found in drinking water, including bottled water (which usually contains tap water) Avoid: Avoid unfiltered tap water if PFAS is present** and all bottled water Alternative: Invest in a water filter certified to eliminate PFAS, and travel with refillable, stainless steel water bottles Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: For water filters only: NSF 53 and NSF 58 certified filters
Food Storage
Problem: Plastic and grease-proof containers can transfer PFAS into food Avoid: Plastic food storage, storing and reheating take-out in plastic containers or fast-food wrapping Alternative: Purchase food in glass containers, and repurpose them to store and reheat home-cooked food and leftovers Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: None*
Plastic dishware and utensils
Problem: Plastic and single-use dishware can expose people to PFAS Avoid: Plastic dishes, plastic sippy cups, plastic utensils Alternative: Dishware and utensils made from glass, ceramic, porcelain, silicone, or stainless steel Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: None*
Cookware
Problem: PFAS has been well-documented in pans with special coatings (e.g. Teflon). Be wary of pans claimed to be PFOA/PFAS-free. Avoid: Products with Teflon and other nonstick coatings Alternative: Stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic, glass Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: None*
Personal hygiene products
Problem: PFAS are found products like shampoo, lotion, and dental floss Avoid: Avoid products containing “perfluor-,” “polyfluor-,” “PFC, “or “PTFE” Alternative: Products made with natural, recognizable ingredients (plant oils, aloe, cocoa butter) Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: C2C, Green Seal
Products in plastic containers
Problem: Plastic containers can leach PFAS into personal care products Avoid: Products sold in plastic containers Alternative: Shampoo bars, glass containers, purchasing items from “bulk bins” Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: None*
Makeup
Problem: PFAS in makeup can be readily absorbed into the body Avoid: Avoid “waterproof” products and those containing “perfluor-,” “polyfluor-,” “PFC,” or “PTFE” Alternative: Products made with natural, recognizable ingredients (plant oils, aloe, cocoa butter) Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: C2C, Green Seal
Menstrual products
Problem: PFAS are found in menstrual pads, tampons, and period underwear Avoid: Brands not certified to be PFAS-free Alternative: Silicone menstrual cups, fabric liners/pads, or certified PFAS-free brands Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: Oeko-Tek, BlueSign
Fabric
Problem: PFAS are found in synthetic fabrics, especially when labeled as water proof or stain proof. Avoid: Synthetic fibers and their coatings (polyester, nylon, spandex, acrylic) Alternative: Natural fibers (cotton, linen, wool, hemp) Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: BlueSign, Green Screen, Oeko-Tek, C2C
Activewear and rain gear
Problem: PFAS are found in many activewear items Avoid: Clothing labeled “waterproof” or “stain resistant” Alternative: Clothing made with naturalfibers or certified PFAS-free Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: BlueSign, Green Screen, Oeko-Tek, C2C
Cleaning Products
Problem: PFAS are found in cleaning products Avoid: Cleaning products with a large percentage of PFAS in them Alternative: Cleaning products made with natural, recognizable ingredients (castile soap, essential oils), or clean with vinegar and baking soda Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: Green Seal, C2C, Green Screen
Dust
Problem: PFAS from products like carpets and rugs accumulates in household dust Avoid: Allowing dust to accumulate Alternative: Dust with wet cloths, change furnace filters often, consider HEPA filters for your HVAC system and vaccum Look for pfas-free certification from these labels:
interior exterior paint
Problem: PFAS in paint can leach into the air and dust Avoid: Paints with fluorosurfactants (Capstone FS-30, CapstoneFS-64, S-106A) Alternative: Paints certified to be PFAS-free Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: Green Seal, C2C
synthetic flooring and coatings
Problem: Flooring can expose household members to PFAS Avoid: Vinyl flooring and stain-resistant carpet Alternative: Natural flooring (wood, bamboo) or certified PFAS-free carpet Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: C2C
furniture
Problem: Furniture coatings can expose household members to PFAS Avoid: Stain-resistant coatings Alternative: Products without stain resistance, or those that are certified PFAS-free Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: BIFMA, C2C, Green Screen
home gardening products
Problem: PFAS have been found in pesticides, as well as plastic gardening supplies Avoid: Pesticides, plastic weedbarriers, plastic pots Alternative: Use natural pesticides like essential oils, and use newspaper and leafmulch as a weed barrier Look for pfas-free certification from these labels: None*

Access our PFAS guide for free!

Worried about the hidden dangers of PFAS? Gain exclusive access to our guide to uncover products containing PFAS and explore safer alternatives.

* With the complexity of testing for thousands of types of PFAS, and fledgling legislation, several types of consumer goods currently have no guidance or certification system available.

** You can check your annual water quality report for detectable levels of certain PFAS, if your water comes from a mid-size or larger water system. Community water systems serving more than 10,000 people and a selection of smaller systems are required to test for 29 forms of PFAS. If any of these toxic compounds are detected, those results will be listed in the water system’s annual water quality report.

Your loved ones need this information to stay safe and healthy. Will you make sure they see it?