There has been a lot of buzz lately around a chemical family called “PFAS.” Also known as “forever chemicals”, this class of chemicals is potentially harmful to the human body, according to scientific research. More than ever, people are trying to figure out how to avoid PFAS.
You’ll find them in a wide range of everyday items. As a result, there is now a huge sense of alarm over these chemicals.
While it’s normal to be concerned, having the right information can give you peace of mind. In this article, we’ll show you how to avoid PFAS by making a few simple lifestyle changes and product swaps.
We hope that you feel more confident and at ease by the end of this article!
What are PFAS?
PFAS is an acronym for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. It’s a group of chemicals found in lots of common household products, from raincoats, to non-stick cookware, to dental floss.
The chemical was invented in the 1940s, and has been in use ever since.
Why use PFAS?
PFAS serve a few purposes. With waterproof, greaseproof and stainproof qualities, they keep items dry, preserve them from wear and tear, and work as a lubricant to reduce friction.
PFAS make water “bead” on raincoats, stop food from sticking to Teflon pans, and make microwave popcorn packets greaseproof.
Even some generic dental flosses contain this chemical. Thanks to their anti-friction properties, PFAS help floss glide easily between tight teeth. Floss breakage or “shredding” is a common complaint among floss users, and PFAS are meant to help solve that problem.
Are PFAS safe?
There is growing evidence that PFAS may lead to numerous health problems as well as causing harmful environmental effects. Let’s break these down.
While research on the chemical is ongoing, PFAS appear to contribute to several health risks. They are a possible endocrine disruptor, and may weaken the immune system, cause birth defects, and cause high cholesterol. And they bioaccumulate in the body over time.
PFAS are produced using a chemical called fluorine, which is a known carcinogen. As a result, PFAS are linked to cancer in humans, particularly kidney and testicular cancers.
This chemical has unsettling environmental implications. PFAS bear the name “forever chemicals” because they're virtually indestructible and will last in the environment for a very, very long time. This means that they can contaminate drinking water and soil indefinitely.
Just like in humans, PFAS also bioaccumulate in wildlife. Not only does this put wildlife at risk of extinction, but it also affects humans. Eating fish and other animal products with high levels of PFAS puts humans at risk.
PFAS are detectable all over the world, and the wind carries them between continents. Human blood tests reveal that most people have PFAS in their bloodstream.
How do I avoid PFAS?
While it’s hard to avoid PFAS completely, there are things you can do to limit your exposure to dangerously high levels of this chemical. Here are a few tips on how to avoid PFAS:
Cook with cast iron or stainless steel
Non-stick pans are a huge source of PFAS. Cast iron and stainless steel pans are much safer to cook with because they don’t contain any intentional PFAS.
If you season your cast iron pan properly, you can get a non-stick effect (bonus: even add a little iron to your diet).
Limit your take-out food
In order to make them grease-resistant, most fast food wrappers and even supposedly eco-friendly compostable bowls that restaurants have started to use in an effort to move away from plastics contain PFAS.
Instead, cook fresh food at home — the fresher your food is, the less likely it will be to have been exposed to packaging that may contain PFAS or other concerning chemicals. If you do get take-out, remove the food as quickly as you can from the container and never store or reheat leftovers in the packaging.
Avoid cosmetics containing PFAS
Avoid long-wearing cosmetics that are meant to last all day.
PFAS are added to certain mascaras, eyeshadows, and lipsticks thanks to their grease-proof and waterproof properties. This makes the cosmetics sweat-proof and helps the product stay in place.
A group of scientists from the University of Notre Dame found that 52% of the 231 cosmetics they tested contained high levels of fluorine, an indicator of PFAS.
Opt for natural cosmetics instead. There are plenty of clean beauty brands selling cosmetics free of non-toxic ingredients and dyes.
Make popcorn on the stovetop
Microwave popcorn packets are made of a greaseproof paper that contains high levels of PFAS. It’s much healthier (and cheaper) to pop kernels in a stainless steel or cast iron pan on the stove.
Use PFAS-free dental floss
Most dental flosses that are designed to glide easily between the teeth contain high amounts of PFAS. Look for a dental floss that’s marked “PFAS-free.” Both our Smart Floss and our Activated Charcoal VEGAN Floss are free of PFAS!
Does PFAS-free dental floss work?
In order to solve the problem of floss shredding many generic dental flosses and tapes are made of materials such as PTFE (Teflon®) which are generally high in PFAS. Because they glide so easily between the teeth, they bypass sharp and tight spots without shredding. However, the same materials that enable it to glide effortlessly through your teeth also makes it “glide” right past the plaque and debris it’s meant to be picking up. What’s the point of even flossing then?
DrTung’s flosses have a different “shred-proof” design. Its strong multi-filament fibers are thicker, more durable and coated with eco-friendly waxes, making it less prone to shredding without the need for PFAS. You simply pull it tight to get in between tight contacts, then when you release to go around the teeth and gums, the floss expands to reach more surface area — effectively grabbing all the plaque and gunk stuck in those interdental spaces. Clinical studies show Smart Floss removes up to 55% more plaque than regular floss. Now that’s something to smile about.
To recap, our PFAS-free Smart Floss and Activated Charcoal VEGAN Floss actually outperform generic dental floss!
How can I be sure that Smart Floss is PFAS-free?
We understand that some people are wary of PFAS-free claims. Since PFAS is so common, it’s normal to wonder, “how can I be sure I’m not coming in contact with it?”
At DrTung's our flosses are specifically designed with NO PTFE/PFAS and recent multiple independent tests confirm:
1) NO detectable organofluorine
2) NO detectible PFAS.
Read more here
We hope this article puts you at ease and makes you feel confident that you can protect yourself from these harmful chemicals. While it’s true that PFAS are everywhere, knowing where PFAS live in high concentrations and making steps to avoid those items will keep you safe.
We’re proud to offer highly effective dental flosses that do not contain PFAS. This is important for us as it makes you a little less vulnerable. And the best part is that our flosses actually outperform generic dental floss by a long shot!
Looking for an effective dental floss that can also give you peace of mind? Shop our Smart Floss and Activated Charcoal VEGAN Floss now!