Many cosmetics sold in the U.S. and Canada likely contain high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a potentially toxic class of chemicals linked to a number of serious health conditions, according to new research from the University of Notre Dame.
Scientists tested more than 200 cosmetics including concealers, foundations, eye and eyebrow products and various lip products. According to the study, 56% of foundations and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascaras tested were found to contain high levels of fluorine, which is an indicator of PFAS use in the product. The study was recently published in the journal of Environmental Science and Technology Letters.
“These results are particularly concerning when you consider the risk of exposure to the consumer combined with the size and scale of a multibillion-dollar industry that provides these products to millions of consumers daily,” Graham Peaslee, professor of physics at Notre Dame and principal investigator of the study, said. “There’s the individual risk — these are products that are applied around the eyes and mouth with the potential for absorption through the skin or at the tear duct, as well as possible inhalation or ingestion. PFAS is a persistent chemical — when it gets into the bloodstream, it stays there and accumulates. There’s also the additional risk of environmental contamination associated with the manufacture and disposal of these products, which could affect many more people.”
Previously found in nonstick cookware, treated fabrics, fast food wrappers and most recently, the personal protective equipment used by firefighters across the country, PFAS are known as “forever chemicals,” because the chemical compounds don’t naturally degrade — which means they end up contaminating groundwater for decades after their release into the environment. Use of PFAS in foam fire suppressants has been linked to contaminated drinking water systems, prompting the Department of Defense to switch to environmentally safer alternatives, for example.
Studies have linked certain PFAS to kidney cancer, testicular cancer, hypertension, thyroid disease, low birth weight and immunotoxicity in children…..