The Study Finds Toxic “Forever Chemical” in Breastfeeding


  • One study found dangerous levels of PFAS in the breast milk of 50 mothers in the Seattle area.
  • PFAS are known as “chemicals forever” because they live in human bodies and the environment.
  • The study found some more recent PFAS that may also be harmful to human health.
  • Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.

PFAS – the artificial, potentially toxic “forever chemicals” – have been found in cosmetics, drinking water, fire-fighting foam.

They may even enter breast milk.

A recent study found significant levels of chemicals in breast milk from 50 new mothers living in the Seattle area. The samples tested had PFAS levels that would not be safe for drinking water, and the study authors said the results “are cause for concern.”

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, can stay in the body for life and pollute the environment even more. Exposure from the girl’s beginning could lead to health problems later in life, understood

high cholesterol
, cancer, weakened immune system function, and thyroid hormone disorder.

An investigation indicated that PFAS are present, to some degree, in the blood of more than 98% of Americans. Exposure to PFAS can build up for decades through drinking water and environmental fumes, but also household products such as non-stick tiles, rain gear and stain-protected sofas.

“I had this moment when I realized I could do the best job I could, and I would always run into things out of my control. So it was really, really frustrating,” said Vera Harrington, a new mom who learned she had nine types. of PFAS in her breast milk, she told u Seattle Times.

A new generation of PFAS

The newspaper, published in a May issue of Environmental Science and Technology, was the first report of PFAS levels in breast milk collected in the United States in the last 15 years.


Past investigations focused on two older chemicals: PFOS and PFOA. Both are no longer made in the United States, since they have been linked to several adverse health effects.

Those chemicals accounted for nearly 40% of the total PFAS contamination in the Seattle study, since they are still circulating in human bodies and communities. The good news is that they have been detected at much lower concentrations than in previous studies.

However, there is a growing new class of PFAS. The shorter PFAS chain has replaced some of the older, more well-known chemicals – and they’re not much safer. Two of these, PFHxA and PFHpA, were detected in most breast milk samples from the Seattle area.

Based on early findings on short-chain PFAS, the new generation of chemicals is likely to be also harmful to human health, Dr.Philippe Grandjean, an environmental health expert, recently told EWG Inaugural PFAS Conference.

“We wholeheartedly support that we look to the full perspective, instead of taking the next generation hostage and [waiting to] see what happens over time, ”Grandjean said in a panel on PFAS exposure and human health.

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