June 17, 2019
A paper co-written by Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center Director Sharyle Patton is getting good traction. Reported today by Science Daily and the Health and Environment Alliance, the paper presents a framework to limit human exposure to unnecessary and potentially harmful chemicals. The study was published in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The study proposes the concept of “essential use” to determine whether a chemical is really needed in a particular application. They demonstrate the concept on a class of synthetic chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). From the Science Daily report:
PFAS are used in many consumer goods because of their unique properties such as water and stain repellency. However, a growing number of scientists and health professionals express concern about these chemicals since they persist for a very long time, seep into our water and soil, and may adversely impact people’s health and wildlife. Human health problems linked to certain PFAS exposure include kidney and testicular cancer, liver malfunction, hypothyroidism, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, lower birth weight and size, obesity, and decreased immune response to vaccines.
The study classifies many uses of PFAS as “non-essential.”