Are you replenishing your electrolytes with a dose of PFAS?
New testing finds evidence of “forever chemicals” in 9 popular electrolyte products.
Nine electrolyte products have detectable levels of total fluorine, an indicator of the group of chemicals known as PFAS, according to a new report from Mamavation.
Partnering with EHN.org, the environmental wellness blog and community had 40 electrolyte products (from 30 brands) tested by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified lab and found levels of total fluorine ranging from 10 parts per million, or ppm, to 105 ppm in nine of them.
Fluorine is a strong indicator of “forever chemicals”— which have been linked to everything from cancer to birth defects to lower vaccine effectiveness. The testing also indicated the presence of fluoride in the nine products, which is often added to municipal water for oral health but has been linked to developmental problems in children.
EHN.org partially funded the testing and Pete Myers, chief scientist of Environmental Health Sciences, which publishes Environmental Health News, reviewed the findings. The report builds on EHN.org and Mamavation’s growing library of consumer products tested for evidence of PFAS, including products such as contact lenses, pasta and tomato sauces, sports bras, tampons and dental floss.
While many are aware of PFAS pollution in water, the testing finds that we’re also exposed by the things we wear or eat. You can explore more reporting from our collaboration with Mamavation: "PFAS on our shelves and in our bodies."
Many people take electrolytes to maintain hydration, and balance the body’s levels of salts and minerals as well as the pressure inside of our cells and the pH balance in our blood — all of which keep nerves, the heart and muscles functioning properly. However, it seems that some people may be unknowingly dosing themselves with forever chemicals.
Linda S. Birnbaum, scientist emeritus and former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program and scholar at residence at Duke University, told Mamavation the new findings are concerning because “for many people, electrolytes are taken daily.”
“Therefore, it’s very important to avoid electrolyte products with an indication of PFAS “forever chemicals” based on potential health impacts, especially for pregnant women and children,” she added.
Mamavation also found additional ingredients in electrolyte products that have been linked to health impacts, including artificial colors and flavors, food additives, and sucralose. It’s unclear how or why evidence of PFAS is showing up in electrolytes, however, a past EHN.org investigation found PFAS are often getting into cosmetics, clothes and food even when companies are not intentionally adding the chemicals, due to products used in manufacturing, misidentified raw materials, plastic packaging and other ways.
What brands are PFAS-free?
Nine of the electrolyte products out of 40 sent to the lab had some levels of total fluorine, a marker for PFAS, and fluoride. Some products were tested more than once and the results varied.
These brands had detectable levels of total fluorine: Flavcity Electrolyte Drink Mix Grape Powdered Drink (65 ppm on first test, and 17 ppm on second test), Nuun Hydration Sport Tropical (18 ppm), PaleoValley Essential Electrolytes Watermelon Flavor (55 ppm on first test, and 47 ppm on second test), Plexus Hydrate Natural Blueberry Acai Flavor (17 ppm on first test and 10 ppm on second test), Signature Care Electrolyte Powder Variety Pack (13 ppm) and Total Hydration Keto Electrolytes Capsules (105 ppm).
Mamvation also highlighted electrolyte products that were both free from PFAS evidence and did not contain harmful ingredients. Some of these brands include Skratch Labs Sport Hydration Drink Mix with Oranges, Ultima Replenisher Hydration Electrolyte Powder, Keto K1000 Electrolyte Powder Watermelon, Earthley Wellness Electrolyte Powder and others.
"Those nine out of 40 contaminated products is a lot and leads me to the conclusion that producers of PFAS-free electrolytes should, as a public service, begin labeling their products as ‘PFAS-free,' Terrence Collins, Teresa Heinz professor of green chemistry & director of the Institute for Green Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, told Mamavation.
See the full report at Mamavation.
Want to know more about PFAS? Check out our comprehensive guide.