Investigation: PFAS on our shelves and in our bodies
Testing finds concerning chemicals in everything from sports bras to ketchup, including in brands labeled PFAS-free.
A wide-ranging, ongoing investigation of PFAS in everyday products has uncovered evidence of the toxics in our clothes, food, and makeup—including in many so-called “green” and “organic” brands.
While many are aware of PFAS pollution in water, the testing finds that we’re also exposed by the things we wear or eat. The testing highlights the dangerous unknowns in many U.S. supply chains, as many brands are not intentionally adding PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which contribute to cancer, reproductive and immune systems damages, elevated cholesterol, and other health issues.
The collaboration between EHN.org and wellness community Mamavation looked for fluorine, an indicator of PFAS, and found contamination in products from popular brands like Lululemon, Old Navy, and Burt’s Bees.
It’s not all bad news: many products tested clean. In our guide below you can quickly find PFAS-free products and those that were contaminated. We’ve also armed manufacturers with this information so they can clean up their production from these insidious, harmful chemicals.
Over the next few months we will report on this testing, and give readers the tools to make more informed decisions about products they buy.
Here are the stories:
PFAS in food
What we've found
- In athletic clothing—such as leggings and sports bras— evidence of PFAS contamination, including in brands that had vowed to stop intentionally adding these compounds to their products. And period underwear had high fluorine levels even for companies that have claimed their products were PFAS-free.
- In food—such as spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, and baby food—evidence of PFAS contamination, even in organic and natural brands.
- In personal care products, evidence of PFAS contamination in “PFAS-free” green beauty brands and retailers, highlighting the uphill battle for small manufacturers trying to do the right thing and the need for transparency in supply chains.
What needs to happen
- We are notifying and working with companies to help identify where this pollution is coming from and how it can end.
- We are reaching out to policymakers interested in consumer product safety to alert them to unknown PFAS contamination.
- Share these stories with your friends and family to find products free from harmful chemicals.
- Learn about PFAS dangers and how to avoid them with our helpful guide: What are PFAS?
- Follow the conversation on Twitter at #StopPFAS.
- Have a product or brand you'd like to see tested? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read the stories
This is an ongoing story. There is more testing in the works and we will continue to investigate PFAS in products.
Below are stories we've published, and we will update this page as more testing is complete.
Experts and advocates say the new testing points to the need for more rigorous regulation.
From manufacturing to packaging, PFAS are getting into cosmetics, clothes, and food even when companies are not intentionally adding the chemicals.
Law firm warns companies of a quickly changing landscape that has triggered lawsuits over the “forever chemicals.”
“Even the most well-intentioned brands could experience PFAS problems.”
GreenScreen certification examines foodware for PFAS, BPA, and thousands of other concerning chemicals — but transparency on chemical replacements remains elusive.
Though many consumer products for children are marketed as “green” or “nontoxic,” some still contain toxic chemicals.
From construction to skiing, PFAS are an important, but understudied, source of on-the-job chemical exposure.
See more PFAS testing results
Check out Mamavation's Product Investigation page for more PFAS testing, including:
- PFAS widespread in water- and stain-resistant outdoor clothes ... ›
- Investigation finds evidence of PFAS in workout and yoga pants - EHN ›
- States will weigh more than 210 bills on toxic “forever chemicals” in ... ›
- CoverGirl Sued For PFAS contamination - EHN ›
- Evidence of PFAS chemicals in sports bras - EHN ›
- PFAS chemicals—the other immune system threat - EHN ›
- LISTEN: Theresa Guillette on what gators and crocodiles can tell us about our health - EHN ›
- PFAS cosmetics studies are “springboard” for litigation - EHN ›
- IN-DEPTH: For clean beauty brands, getting PFAS out of makeup might be easier said than done - EHN ›
- Starbucks will eliminate all PFAS in its packaging - EHN ›
- Evidence of PFAS in organic pasta sauces - EHN ›
- “Green” children's products not always PFAS-free, warns new study - EHN ›
- Workers exposed to PFAS in a variety of industries - EHN ›