US Study finds Teflon in cosmetic products despite health concerns

April 3rd, 2018

A new US study has revealed that Teflon is being used across a range of cosmetic product despite warnings about the potential impacts on human health.

The report carried out by scientists at the Environment Working Group (EWG) identified Teflon in foundations, moisturizer, brow liner and other cosmetic products regularly used by women.

The EWG is an American environmental organization that specializes in research and advocacy on issues related to toxic chemicals.

The research team searched the EWG’s Skin Deep database for the presence of Teflon in cosmetic products and discovered its presence in 66 different products from 15 brands.

Teflon – previously used widely in non-stick pans – is the brand name for polymer of tetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), one of thousands of fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS.

PFAS are toxic chemical compounds which are still widely used in a range of products despite warnings from the scientific community.  PFAS are used to make Teflon, food wrappers, pizza boxes amongst others.

Teflon was used widely in non-stick frying pans Photo: waferboard

Overall, the EWG research team found 13 different PFA’s in nearly 200 products from 28 brands including sunscreens, shampoos and shaving creams. PFAS chemicals are often listed on product labels, with EWG warning consumers to check for any ingredient with “fluoro” in the name.

Teflon use has been restricted since studies revealed that PFAS caused health impacts to lab animals. The Madrid Statement on PFAs, signed by 200 scientists from 40 countries in 2015, highlights the results of studies on lab animals that show various health defects such as liver toxicity, testicular and kidney cancer.

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), lab animals exposed to high doses of PFAS have shown changes in liver, thyroid, and pancreatic function, as well in hormone levels.

While scientists are still learning about the health effects of exposure to humans, the ATSDR warns that studies have found an increased risk of cancer, impact on children’s development and other health issues.

PFOA, another chemical component used in the production of Teflon, has been identified to be extremely hazardous, especially to children as they can cause decreased effectiveness to vaccines and low birth weight.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, these chemicals have polluted water and the environment, and have also been ingested by humans and animals.

About the Author

Ramya Ramalingam

Ramya is studying for a Masters in Media Management at Griffith College Dublin. She is passionate about photography and film and has a keen interest in environmental issues.

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