(ABC4) – The urge to purchase water and stain-resistant clothing and furnishings may come strong for those who don’t want the headache of dealing with soiled apparel or sofas ridden with wine and juice stains. Some may consider these luxuries a convenience, but a new study has found a high probability that these amenities may be toxic.
A new study released by Toxic-Free Future finds toxic chemicals in most products labeled stain- or water-resistant, with 72 percent testing positive for PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), PFAS can pose great health risks to people such as cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and increased risks of asthma and thyroid disease.
Authors of the study found that PFAS which are also known as “forever chemicals” are include in items such as rain jackets, hiking pants, mattress pads, comforters, napkins, and tablecloths.
The study analyzed a total of 60 products purchased from 10 major retailers which include Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Macy’s, REI, Target, TJX, and Walmart.
Out of 47 products marketed as stain- or water-resistant, the majority, which was 72 percent, contained PFAS. The authors found that all products tested that were not marketed as stain- or water-resistant were found to be PFAS-free.
The authors grouped the products into three categories: outdoor gear, bedding, and tablecloths/napkins, with 20 items in each product category.
“Our testing finds continued, unnecessary use of the toxic chemicals known as PFAS in outdoor clothing and home furnishings like bedding and tablecloths,” said Erika Schreder, study author and science director for Toxic-Free Future. “When companies use PFAS to make products stain- or water-resistant, they are using chemicals that contaminate homes, drinking water, and breast milk with highly persistent chemicals that can cause cancer and harm the immune system.”
The study also revealed that manufacturers have been using a mixture of PFAS, including compounds currently banned in other countries.
While testing, the authors of the study found older PFAS which have already been banned in the European Union and phased out by major U.S. manufacturers among the newer PFAS.
Upon completion of the study, the authors urged consumers to find water-resistant and stain-resistant items that are PFA-free. They found items such as raincoats and mattress pads that are marketed as water-resistant and did not contain any PFAS.
Over the past several years, companies have made huge progress in bringing PFA-free products into the market.