Children wearing stain-resistant school uniforms may be exposed to potentially dangerous levels of “forever” chemicals, according to a new study.
The research, published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, found that millions of school-age children in the US and Canada alone could be exposed to potentially harmful levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or chemicals. forever, through their uniforms. .
“Children are a vulnerable population when it comes to chemicals of concern, and no one knows that these textiles are being treated with PFAS and other toxic chemicals,” said study co-author Graham Peaslee of the University of Notre Dame. give me in usa
PFAS are chemicals used since the 1940s, commonly found in nonstick cookware, waterproof cosmetics, firefighting foams, as well as commercial products that resist grease and oil.
Previous studies have shown that PFAS are linked to developmental effects in children, increased cancer risks, and reduced immunity to fight infection.
These “forever chemicals” have also been found to be extremely persistent in the environment, and even when PFAS are buried, they leach into the surrounding soil.
The researchers warn that PFAS in chemically treated uniforms may end up harming children through skin absorption.
They say children can also be exposed to these potentially dangerous chemicals through eating without washing their hands, other hand-to-mouth behavior, or clothing-to-mouth behavior by younger children.
“PFAS do not belong in any clothing, but their use in school uniforms is of particular concern. School uniforms are worn directly on the skin for up to eight hours a day by children, who are particularly vulnerable to damage,” said Marta Venier, lead author of the study from Indiana University in the US.
“I don’t know of any parents who value stain repellency over their child’s health,” said study co-author Miriam Diamond from the University of Toronto in Canada.
Scientists call for these chemicals to be removed from school uniforms and all other products where they are not essential.
The researchers also ask parents to check uniform labels to see if the uniforms their children wear are marketed as stain-resistant, adding that multiple washings can reduce the concentration of PFAS in these garments.
“This study has supported the hypothesis that many children’s products marketed as ‘stain resistant’ or ‘waterproof’ contain PFAS,” the scientists wrote in the study.
“PFAS in school uniforms with high levels of PFAS could be a source of exposure to these harmful chemicals for millions of children each day through inhalation, ingestion, and possibly also through dermal absorption, as well as a major source release of PFAS into the environment during washing. and in the final stages of life”, they added.
However, the researchers say further studies with a more systematic approach targeting different types of fabrics and garments are required to confirm the findings.