How safe are children’s products that come with a green certification? Most of the parents think that the products having the green tag are safe for their kids. But this is far from the truth if a new study is to be believed.
A new study claims that several of the children’s products, including those with green certifications, contain harmful PFAS chemicals that were not listed on the label. The journal Environmental Science & Technology published the study.
PFAS are linked with a wide range of health effects including cancers, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, asthma and low birth weight. It can also affect immune system and weaken the effectiveness of childhood vaccines and the body’s ability to fight infections.
Co-author Dr. Laurel Schaider, senior scientist at Silent Spring Institute and others tested 93 different products used by children and adolescents, including bedding, furnishings, and clothing. The researchers specifically chose products that were labelled as stain-resistant, water-resistant, “green” or “nontoxic.”
In the first step, they used a rapid screening method to test the products for fluorine-a marker of PFAS, Fifty-four of the products contained detectable levels of fluorine. The highest concentration was found in a school uniform shirt. Products advertised as water- of stain-resistant, even those labelled as “green” or “non-toxic,” were more likely to contain fluorine and also have higher concentrations of fluorine compared with other products. The researchers then tested a subset of products for 36 different PFAS chemicals. PFAS were found only in products labeled as water- or stain-resistant, regardless of whether they were marketed as “green” or nontoxic.”
- PFAS were detected most frequently in upholstered furniture, clothing, and pillow protectors.
- Pillow protectors and clothing in general had higher levels of PFAS than other products.
- PFOA, a legacy PFAS that has been phased out in the U.S., was detected in a variety of products, including those labeled as “green.” Most of those products came from China.
Co-author Kathryn Rodgers, a doctoral student at Boston University School of Public Health, noted that given the toxicity of PFAS and the fact that the chemicals don’t serve a critical function, they should not be allowed in products.”
PFAS are a class of more than 9000 chemicals that companies add to a wide variety of consumer products to make them non-stick, waterproof, and stain-resistant. In addition to items such as carpets, upholstery, and apparel, PFAS are also used in everyday items such as non-stick cookware, food packaging, cosmetics, and even dental floss,
Rodgers said that the findings highlight the need for green certifiers to include PFAS in their criteria and to conduct a more thorough review of the products they certify. Green certifications are created by third party organizations and offer assurances that a product does not contain certain harmful chemicals. However, certifications vary in their safety standards and they don’t all cover the same list of chemicals.