Toxic “forever chemicals” linked to a host of diseases and disorders have been discovered in every baby product sampled in a new study.
Laboratory tests commissioned by the Washington, DC-based Environmental Working Group (EWG) found perfluorinated and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) in toys, clothing, bibs, and bedding.
PFAS are a common ingredient in clothing and other household items because they are durable and can repel grease, water, stains, and heat.
But scientists have warned that they can sometimes disappear as dust and then be inhaled by young people. They are also durable and can remain in the environment for long periods of time.
The chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, birth defects, autism, and infertility.
Sydney Evans, an analyst at EWG and an author of the study, told DailyMail.com that the risks from them “far outweigh any kind of smear test.”
The researchers found PFAS chemicals in many baby items, including clothing, shoes, bibs, and bedding.
The EWG, an advocacy organization based in Washington, DC, commissioned a series of independent laboratory tests about the products
The research initially looked at levels of fluoride in the items, a chemical used to make plastics that can cause tooth decay, osteoporosis, and damage to kidneys, bones, nerves, and muscles.
The researchers then tested the 10 items with the highest levels of fluoride for PFAS.
The 10 products were all children’s products including Sealy and Graco bedding, bibs made by Bumkins and Hudson, UGG boots, a Columbia jacket, bucket hat and pajamas made by Carters and a snack bag also made by Bumkin.
There is no federal limit for PFAS chemicals in toys, but limits have been set for their amounts in drinking water.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended in guidance issued in July that its levels should not exceed 0.004 parts per trillion (ppt) in drinking water.
Several states, including Maine, have also moved to ban its use in products including clothing and bedding.
In the study, the biggest offender was Hudson’s waterproof unisex baby bib, which had 191.985 parts per billion (ppb) of the substance.
The other products ranged from 1 ppt to 52 ppt, and the researchers warned that any contamination is dangerous.
The researchers warn that exposure to “forever chemicals” in youth can affect a child’s social and physical development and affect behavior as they grow older.
A University of Texas study last year found that children exposed to PFAS in the womb were more likely to develop autism.
Long-term exposure can also leave a person at increased risk of cancers of the kidney, testicle, ovary, prostate, thyroid, and bone marrow when they reach adulthood.
The EPA limits PFAS to 0.004 ppt for drinking water. The metric measures the prevalence of particles within a swab sample.
EWG researchers found fluoride in all 34 baby and infant products they tested (left). The top ten products in fluorine concentration were also tested for PFAS.
What ARE ‘forever chemicals’?
‘Forever chemicals’ are a class of common industrial compounds that do not break down when released into the environment.
Humans are exposed to these chemicals after coming into contact with food, soil, or water bodies.
These chemicals, more correctly known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are added to cookware, rugs, textiles, and other items to make them more water and stain repellant.
PFAS contamination has been detected in water near manufacturing facilities, as well as at military bases and fire-fighting training facilities where flame-retardant foam is used.
The chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer, and damage to the immune system, as well as birth defects, lower birth weight, and decreased response to the vaccine in children.
Ms. Evans explained that the high levels of PFAS in these products add to overall household exposure and are spread through dust particles that can be inhaled or ingested.
She warns that children in particular are at risk, because they are more likely to put their hands both on the ground and in their mouths, consuming contaminants.
Another bib, the waterproof SuperBib from Bumkins, was also found to have the toxic chemical, at 3,482 ppb.
Sealy Baby Waterproof Crib & Toddler Mattress Topper has 0.258 ppb of PFAS, while Sealy Baby Waterproof Crib & Toddler Stain Protector has 5.71 ppb.
Another bedding product, Graco’s Quick Connect Waterproof Playground Sheets, at 6,255 ppb.
Clothing products were also vulnerable to contamination.
The UGG Unisex’s Child T Mini Bailey Bow Fashion Boot was found to have 52.207ppb, it was the most contaminated of all the garments tested.
Other contaminated items included Columbia Boys’ Glennaker Rain Jacket (1,608ppb detected), Carter’s Reversible Bucket Hat (24,029ppb), and Carter’s Baby Boys’ Dinosaur Snug Fit Cotton PJs one-piece (1,016ppb).
One snack bag the researchers tested, Bumkins’ Reusable Cloth Food Safe Snack Bag, also had PFAS contamination (7,159 ppb).
DailyMail.com reached out to each of the firms for comment. Neither responded immediately.
Although not tested for PFAS, the toys, changing pads, nursing pillows, pacifiers and play mats all tested positive for fluoride.
The EWG researchers believe it is likely that they are also contaminated with PFAS.
Ms. Evans explains that this harmful chemical is completely synthetic and almost any level of exposure, no matter how small, carries some risk.
While parents who own a product included in the investigation may choose to throw it away, he cautions that it will be much more difficult to protect the home from PFAS.
‘It’s really hard to go shopping if [PFAS exposure],’ She explained.
‘You can get rid of [one product]but the thing you replace it with will also have PFAS.’
Instead, he asks parents to make sure they are vigilant when vacuuming and dusting the house.
She believes that the solution to the problem lies at the feet of regulators, who are responsible for protecting people from exposure to these chemicals.