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A PFAS Guide for Moms to Minimize Your Child’s Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are carcinogens that are found in almost every item we use in our lives. Did you know that the coating that makes your raincoats water-repellant is made of some PFAS chemical? From non-stick cookware and food packaging to firefighting foams and Teflon products—you are exposed to these toxins every minute of your life.  

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reports that almost everyone in the country has measurable levels of PFAS in their bloodstream. While every age group is at risk of PFAS-induced conditions, children are the most susceptible.  

As a mother, you ensure your child’s food is nutritious, their toys are age-appropriate, and their surroundings are free from obvious hazards. However, the complex and invisible nature of PFAS makes it hard to dodge in everyday life. You must stay informed and be proactive in safeguarding your child from the menace of PFAS toxins.

This guide empowers mothers with actionable information to minimize their children’s exposure to PFAS, safeguard their health, and advocate for a cleaner future.

Read also: The Ultimate Guide to Wholesale Baby Blankets

Understanding PFAS and the Risks to Children

These chemicals are super-resistant in the environment and do not degrade for thousands of years. Add to this their carcinogenic properties, and they seem infallible.  

A report published in CNN has linked PFAS exposure to a myriad of health issues in children. It includes reduced birth weight, delayed puberty, and impaired cognitive function. Also, the report links prolonged PFAS exposure to suppressing the immune system. This increases the risk of infections and hinders the effectiveness of childhood vaccinations.

Children can be exposed to PFAS through multiple pathways.

Military sites are among the most common sources of PFAS contamination. Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), used to douse fires in military and air bases, was laden with PFAS toxins. Most of these sites have hazardous amounts of toxins (from AFFF) present in the surrounding soil, water, and air.

If you are raising your child in any such affected area, contaminated water can be your biggest enemy. In such a case, everything that you do for your child, from cooking to washing their diapers, exposes your infant to toxins.

But what if you are exposed to these fatal chemicals while pregnant? Does it risk your fetus’ health? The answer is yes. These toxins can be transferred from mother to child during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This happens if the mother has high levels of PFAS in her blood. Your child will have to suffer life-long complications for no fault of theirs or yours.

If your child ever develops symptoms that can be traced to AFFF (PFAS) exposure, you can take the legal route. You have the right to file a lawsuit against the firefighting foam manufacturers and claim your AFFF lawsuit settlement amounts.

According to TorHoerman Law, these settlements depend on how well you prove exposure and damages. The stronger your case (medical records, proof of exposure), the higher the potential settlement.

This recompense can help in your child’s treatment and hold the pharmaceutical big shots accountable for putting profits over safety.

Minimizing PFAS Exposure At Home

In the battle against PFAS, your home serves as the front line. To minimize your child’s exposure, start by testing your home’s water supply for PFAS.
Invest in effective water filtration systems, such as reverse osmosis or activated carbon filters. When possible, opt for PFAS-free bottled water brands.

A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey has found that approximately 30% of tap water samples collected nationwide are contaminated with PFAS. The threat from drinking water is real.

In the kitchen, you can reduce PFAS exposure by avoiding processed foods and fast-food packaging. These are likely to contain PFAS, and the toxins can leach from grease-resistant coatings on fast-food wrappers.

Instead, choose fresh, organic produce and meats and store leftovers in glass, stainless steel, or silicone containers. When selecting cookware and kitchen utensils, look for PFAS-free options, such as cast iron, glass, or ceramic.

Household cleaning products can also harbor PFAS. Opt for natural, non-toxic alternatives, or make one of your own using ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. Avoid stain-resistant and water-repellent fabrics and furnishings, as these are often treated with PFAS.

Finally, be mindful of personal care products. Choose PFAS-free items for your children, such as shampoo, lotion, and toothpaste. Avoid dental floss and cosmetics that may contain PFAS.

Promoting PFAS-Free Products Outside Home

A PFAS-free lifestyle for your children should extend beyond the walls of your homes. When entrusting your little ones to the care of others at daycare or school, inquire about the institution’s policies regarding PFAS. Do they provide PFAS-free food packaging and cleaning products? If not, you can work with fellow parents and school administrators to create a safer space for your children to learn and grow.

Engaging in outdoor activities is an essential part of a child’s development. However, it is imperative to be cognizant of the potential presence of PFAS in the environment. Before venturing out, investigate the area online and check for its PFAS exposure history.

You can always refer to the Environmental Working Group’s interactive map that shows updated PFAS-contaminated sites across the US. According to the most recent update, there are over 6,000 sites in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four territories.

When gearing up for outdoor adventures, opt for PFAS-free clothing and equipment. You can go for clothes crafted from natural fibers or treated with PFAS-free water-repellent coatings. Websites like the “PFAS Central” database by the Green Science Policy offer valuable resources for identifying PFAS-free alternatives across various categories.

Your child is growing and will be susceptible to infections and allergies. Should medical interventions be necessary, it is crucial to advocate for the use of PFAS-free medical devices. These include PFAS-free tubing and catheters.

Foster open communication with healthcare providers and stay abreast of the latest developments in PFAS-free medical technologies. This way, you can ensure that your children receive the care they need without compromising their long-term well-being.

FAQs

Q: What are PFAS and why are they harmful to children?

A: PFAS are chemicals linked to developmental issues, immune system problems, and certain cancers. Children are especially vulnerable due to their developing bodies.

Q: How are children exposed to PFAS?

A: Common pathways include contaminated drinking water, food packaging, and household dust. Transfer from mothers during pregnancy and breastfeeding cannot be ruled out.

Q: How can I minimize PFAS exposure in my home?

A: Invest in water filtration systems, choose fresh produce, opt for PFAS-free cookware and cleaning products, and avoid stain-resistant fabrics.

Q: What can I do outside the home to protect my child?

A: Inquire about PFAS-free practices at daycare/school, select PFAS-free outdoor gear, and advocate for PFAS-free medical devices when necessary.

To sum up, the fight against PFAS exposure for children goes beyond your kitchen and laundry room. As a mother, you are your child’s fiercest protector. This guide empowers you to be an advocate for their health.

By joining forces with other mothers, supporting legislative efforts, and demanding safer alternatives from manufacturers, we can create a lasting impact.

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