PFAS chemicals are used in a range of consumer products, including fast food packaging, non-stick pans, waterproof clothing, and stain-resistant carpets.
People can be exposed to the substances directly through the products they use and the food they eat. They can also be exposed through indoor air and dust and contaminated drinking water.
PFAS are water- and grease-proof substances that have been linked with numerous health problems, including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, low birth weight, decreased fertility, and effects on the immune system.
In a recent study led by Silent Spring Institute, researchers found certain types of behaviors, including flossing with Oral-B Glide dental floss, lead to higher levels of toxic PFAS chemicals in the body.
The findings show how these chemicals end up in people’s bodies and how people can limit their exposure by changing their behavior.
This is the first study to show that using dental floss containing PFAS is linked to a higher body burden of these toxic chemicals.
The study is published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology.
In the study, the researchers measured 11 different PFAS chemicals in blood samples taken from 178 middle-aged women.
To understand how people’s behavior influences their exposure to PFAS, they compared the blood measurements with results from interviews in which they asked the women about nine behaviors that could lead to higher exposures.
The team found women who flossed with Oral-B Glide tended to have higher levels of a type of PFAS called PFHxS (perfluorohexanesulfonic acid) in their body compared with those who didn’t.
To further understand the connection, the researchers tested 18 dental flosses (including 3 Glide products) for the presence of fluorine—a marker of PFAS—using a technique called particle-induced gamma-ray emission (PIGE) spectroscopy.
All three Glide products tested positive for fluorine, consistent with previous reports that Glide is manufactured using Teflon-like compounds.
In addition, two store brand flosses with “compare to Oral-B Glide” labeling and one floss describing itself as a “single strand Teflon fiber” tested positive for fluorine.
The team says that based on the findings, people should choose flosses that don’t contain PFAS.
Other behaviors that were linked to higher PFAS levels included having stain-resistant carpet or furniture and living in a city served by a PFAS-contaminated drinking water supply.
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