New Study Finds Toxic PFAS In Children’s School Uniforms

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Toxic PFAS are in everything. Umbrellas, non-stick pans, packaging, and carpets are just a few items these “forever chemicals” (so named because they don’t break down) have been found in. And now, according to new research, they’re even in children’s school uniforms.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (aka PFAS) are human-made chemicals that are resistant to water, oil, and heat.

We’ve used them consistently since the 1950s, and they’re a great, practical addition to things like cooking equipment, as it means they become nonstick, and school uniforms, as it makes them more stain resistant. But practical does not equal safe.

In fact, PFA exposure has been linked with a higher risk of liver damage, fertility issues, thyroid disease, and cancer.

But, according to a new study, PFAS are still a frequent addition to children’s clothing.

PFAS in children’s clothes

Researchers discovered “high” levels of the chemicals in 65 percent of school uniforms, as well as wet and cold weather gear and stroller covers.

The findings of the study were published in the Environmental and Science Technology journal.

Nine popular brands selling school uniforms were included in the research. It also concluded that most of the children who wear this clothing attend low-income, Catholic, and other private elementary schools.

Graham Peaslee, the study’s co-author, told the Guardian: “It’s one of those things where you hang your head and say ‘What are they thinking?’”

“Everyone thinks stain-resistant clothes are great progress, but if little Johnny or Jane is covered in PFAS, is that great progress?”

Not only do PFAS present a health risk, but they’re also environmentally damaging.

They can take more than 1,000 years to degrade, notes PFAS Free, an initiative by the nonprofit Fidra that aims to reduce chemical pollution. This means that they leach into water supplies, impacting marine ecosystems (and some of the food we eat).

And yet, they are still added to a wide variety of consumer goods. In fact, another study from earlier this year found that nearly 75 percent of water-resistant products contain PFAS. This is despite the fact that there are alternatives available.

The research concluded: “Retailers, manufacturers, and state and federal leaders each have a role to play to bring a swift end to this unnecessary use of PFAS.”

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