PFAS in dental floss – Could chemicals be contaminating your dental products?
Anyone who has ever been for a routine dental check-up has most likely had the same experience of being admonished for their lack of flossing. It’s a great practice for removing rogue remnants of food and unwanted plaque. However, a new study has found that some dental flosses may contain harmful chemicals.
Wellness site Mamavation and EHN.org, tested 39 dental floss products looking for the presence of PFAS. PFAS, a family of over 4,700 chemicals, are concerning as they have the ability to persist in the environment for decades without degrading. They are often dubbed ‘forever chemicals’ and some of them have been linked to health problems such as cancers.
Results from the study suggested that 33% of products tested are likely to contain PFAS . The level of organic fluorine (which suggests PFAS is present) found in products ranged from 11 parts per million to 248,900 parts per million.
Higher levels of PFAS suggest an intentional addition of the chemical by the manufacturer, most likely to give the product a slick, water-proof quality. Lower levels tend to indicate non-intentional additions, where PFAS is a contaminant coming from processing or elsewhere in the supply chain.
Using products that contain or are contaminated with PFAS may allow PFAS to enter our bodies. A 2019 study found that women who used certain dental floss had increased levels of PFAS in their blood.
Of course, these results do not mean that we should immediately clear out the oral care section of our medicine cabinet and bin any dental floss in sight. Many of the products tested did not contain these chemicals, showing that PFAS-free alternatives are available, and the report also has a section suggesting better flosses to opt for.
CHEM Trust and partners recently published their ‘ban PFAS manifesto’, which has so far been signed by over 60 organisations. It urges the European Commission and EU Member States to keep their promises to ban PFAS in consumer products by 2025 and across all uses by 2030. The manifesto sets out 10 demands addressed to authorities, companies and citizens to stop adding to the PFAS pollution burden and address the existing one.
If your organisation wishes to sign onto the manifesto, you can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org