May 30, 2023
Cancer-causing ‘forever chemicals’ found in kids’ school uniforms
Millions of students are exposed to cancer-causing “forever chemicals” nearly every day through their school uniforms, a bombshell study found.

Potentially harmful levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (also known as PFAs) were detected in all the “stain-resistant” school uniforms that researchers tested from nine brands popular in the US and Canada.

PFAs, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say can lead to “increased risk” of cancer, were also detected in 65% of all school uniforms, rain gear, snowsuits, snowshoes, mittens, bibs, hats and stroller covers tested. The chemicals were found in uniforms made from 100% cotton, cotton spandex and cotton polyester.

“I don’t know any parent who values stain repellency over their child’s health,” said chemist Miriam Diamond, co-author of the study and professor at the University of Toronto.

The findings were published in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology.

An alarming number of children are being exposed to these concerning chemicals and side effects nearly every school day as about a quarter of US children wear school uniforms and one-fifth of US public schools require uniforms, with the greatest prevalence in elementary and low-income schools.

These dangerous compounds are also common key ingredients in many household items, such as nonstick pans, cosmetics and waterproof hiking clothes.

PFAs are called “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down, and instead build up in the environment and human body.

The toxic chemicals may end up in children through skin absorption as well as from eating with unwashed hands, hand-to-mouth behaviors and mouthing of clothing by younger children. There are also possible inhalation risks.

There’s growing evidence that regular exposure to man-made “forever” chemicals, which are used in a variety of household products, are linked to rising cancer rates, thyroid disease, immune suppression, decreased fertility and low birthweight.

The peer-reviewed study noted that “children’s exposure to PFAs is of particular concern. Due to their lower body weight and sensitive developmental period, children’s exposure may result in a greater body burden and higher health risks compared to adults.”

The recent study reviewing school uniforms comes as New York and California are in the process of passing legislation to phase out the use of PFAs in textiles.

In 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a nationwide action plan to study PFAs and devise limits on two such chemicals found in drinking water, following several epidemiological studies linking them to serious health concerns.

But so far only a small fraction of the thousands of PFAs have been tested for toxicity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 98% of Americans have trace amounts of PFAs in their bodies, which may take anywhere from three days to nine years to metabolize. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to determine levels of exposure. (Source: The New York Post)
Story Date: September 23, 2022
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