Toxic “forever chemicals” linked to a slew of diseases and conditions 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 per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) on 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 the scientists warned that they can sometimes wear off like dust and then be inhaled by young people. They are also durable and can remain in the environment for a long time.
The chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, birth defects, autism and infertility.
Sydney Evans, an analyst at EWG and author of the study, told DailyMail.com that the risks from them are “much greater than any kind of stain resistance.”
Researchers found PFAS chemicals on many baby items, including clothes, shoes, bibs and bedding
The EWG, a Washington, DC-based advocacy organization commissioned a series of independent laboratory tests on the products.
The study initially looked at the fluorine content in the articles, a chemical element used to make plastic that can cause tooth decay, osteoporosis and damage to kidneys, bones, nerves and muscles.
Researchers then tested the 10 items with the highest levels of fluorine for PFAS.
The 10 products were all children’s products, including Sealy and Graco bedding, Bumkins and Hudson bibs, UGG boots, a Columbia jacket, a bucket hat and pajamas made by Carters, and a snack bag also made by Bumkin.
There is no limit at the federal level for PFAS chemicals in toys, but there are limits on their amounts in drinking water.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advised in a guideline issued in July that levels should not exceed 0.004 parts per trillion (ppt) in drinking water.
Several states, including Maine, have also banned its use in products, including clothing and bedding.
In the study, the biggest offender was Hudson’s Baby Unisex Baby Waterproof Slab, which contained 191,985 parts per billion (ppb) of the fabric.
The other products ranged from 1 ppt to 52 ppt, with researchers warning that any contamination is dangerous.
Researchers warn that exposure to “forever chemicals” in young people can affect a child’s social and physical development, as well as affect behavior as they get older.
A University of Texas study last year found that children exposed to PFAS in utero were more likely to develop autism.
Long-term exposure may also put a person at higher risk for kidney, testicular, ovarian, prostate, thyroid, and bone marrow cancers when they reach adulthood.
The EPA limits PFAS to 0.004ppt for drinking water. The metric measures the prevalence of particles in a smear.
EWG researchers found that fluorine was found on all 34 infant and baby products they tested (left). The top ten products in fluorine concentration have also been 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 reservoirs.
These chemicals — more commonly known as per- and polyfluoroalkyls, or PFAS — are added to cookware, carpets, textiles and other items to make them more water- and stain-resistant.
PFAS contamination has been detected in water near manufacturing facilities, as well as at military bases and firefighting 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, smaller birth weight and reduced vaccine response in children.
Ms Evans explained that the high levels of PFAS in these products contribute to overall household exposure, spreading through dust particles that can be inhaled or ingested.
She warns that children are especially at risk, as they are more likely to put their hands on the floor as well as in their mouths – consuming pollutants.
Another bib, the Bumkins waterproof SuperBib, was also found to contain the toxic chemical — at 3,482ppb.
The Sealy Baby – Waterproof Fitted Toddler and Baby Crib Mattress Cover has 0.258ppb PFAS, while the Sealy Baby – Stain Protection Waterproof Fitted Toddler & Baby Crib Mattress Cover has 5.71ppb.
Another bedding product, Graco’s Quick Connect Waterproof Play Garden Towels, at 6,255ppb.
Clothing products were also vulnerable to contamination.
UGG Unisex’s Child T Mini Bailey Bow Fashion Boot was found to have 52,207ppb, was the most soiled of all garment goods 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’ 1-Piece Dinosaur Snug Fit Cotton PJ’s (1,016ppb).
A snack bag the researchers tested, Bumkins’ reusable fabric, food-safe, snack backing, also had PFAS contamination (7,159ppb).
Each of the companies was approached for comment by DailyMail.com. No one responded immediately.
Although they were not tested for PFAS, toys, changing pads, nursing pillows, pacifiers and play mats all tested positive for fluorine.
The EWG researchers believe they may also be infected with PFAS.
Ms. Evans explains that this harmful chemical is completely synthetic and that almost any level of exposure – no matter how small – carries some risk.
While parents who own a product included in the study may choose to throw it away, she warns that it will be much more difficult to protect the household from PFAS.
‘It’s really hard to shop your way out when [PFAS exposure]she explained.
‘You can get away’ [one product]but the thing you’re replacing it with also has PFAS.’
Instead, she asks parents to be vigilant about vacuuming and clearing the house.
She believes solving the problem lies at the feet of regulators, who are responsible for protecting people from exposure to these chemicals.