Protecting Your Kids from PFAS or Forever Chemicals: Tips from a Pediatric Environmental Specialist

Dr. Charles Moon, Pediatric Environmental Specialist, explains what PFAS are, how children are exposed and how you can protect kids from their potentially harmful effects.

My name is Dr. Charles Moon. I'm a pediatric environmental health specialist. PFAS stand for Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. They have been used widely since the 1950s for their antifriction as well as oil-, water- and stain-resistant properties.

They are found in a wide array of consumer products we use in our daily lives like nonstick cookware, dental floss, rugs, food packaging, children's products, cosmetics and personal care products, tampons and so much more.

PFAS are also known as forever chemicals. This is because they are composed of strong bonds between carbon and fluorine. They don't break down naturally in the environment and are not metabolized in the human body. This means they often stick around in our bodies and in soil and water for long periods of time.

The main roots of people's exposure and children are through the ingestion of contaminated food and water. Children can be exposed by drinking formula mixed with fats containing water, or from breast milk produced by people exposed.

PFAS also pass through normal childhood hand-to-mouth behaviors. Children can be exposed through the ingestion of contaminated dirt or dust.

Researchers are still studying the complete health effects of PFAS on children. But we know that health problems from the past occur across the lifespan.

PFAS exposure has been linked to hypertension during pregnancy, decreases in birth weight and lower antibody responses to some vaccines. They have been linked to increases in cholesterol levels and types of kidney and testicular cancer.  More health issues from PFAS are likely to be discovered in the coming years.

Parents can reduce PFAS exposure through several means, including using PFAS-certified drinking water filters, improving dust control in their homes and choosing consumer products that are PFAS-free.

Parents should also feel empowered to contact their local, state and federal representatives to let them know that they support banning PFAS in consumer products when safe alternatives exist, and fund policies on safe drinking water for all to protect the health of children in their communities.

Drinking Water Quality Reports: 

PFAS Home Water Filters: 

PFAS Prescription for Prevention: 

Health Children:

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