When I read the other day what’s on the dental floss I’ve used in the past, I had a panic attack! Ok, not quite that but my mouth dropped open and I stared unbelievingly. Is nothing safe? Or rather, is no conventional and popular brand of product safe? I’m starting to think, not.
Everyone comes into contact with biologically persistent chemicals each and every day. Some of it, well we can’t avoid because it’s in our water and air. But we can avoid some sources.
This chemical that’s on some dental flosses was developed in 1946 and appears on outerwear, bathing suits, shoes, camping tents, to go containers for greasy foods, microwave popcorn bags, non-stick cookware and stain repellent treated furniture and carpet. Can you guess what it is?
These chemicals are called Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS chemicals.
As I mentioned before, these PFAS chemicals are persistent. They never break down in the environment and they stay in our body for years unless we actively remove them through a detoxing routine.
The first creation of this was DuPont’s Teflon product. In 2001, there was a scandal in Parkersburg, W. Va. PFAS were found in the drinking water near the DuPont manufacturing plant. DuPont knew that Teflon was toxic and cancer causing but continued to pollute the environment with it. You can learn more about this in the documentary The Devil We Know.
This took 55 years for the public to realize the impact of Teflon and PFAS on the environment and human body. In that time, contamination of drinking water has extended across the US.
Since then, the worst of the PFAS have been phased out including PFOA (found in Teflon) and PFOS (found in Scotchgard products). But of course when something is replaced, the replacement isnt’ necessarily less harmful. These chemicals were replaced with shorter chain equivalents.
“Chemical companies claim this structure makes them safer. But DuPont admits that the short-chain chemical GenX causes cancerous tumors in lab animals. A 2019 Auburn University study found that short-chains may pose even worse risks than long-chains, which supports scientists’ growing agreement that the entire class of PFAS are hazardous.” – Environmental Working Group
This all sounds so terrible but there are things you can do to safeguard you and your family.
When looking at any toxin exposure, avoidance is the first step. Avoid
- Anything with the words stain resistant or stain repellant
- “Non-stick” cookware – I use a cast iron pan. Ceramic coated pans are also an option
- Fast food wrappers and bags
- Microwave popcorn
- Cosmetics with ingredients starting with “fluoro”
- Dental floss that’s “slick” like Oral-B Glide which is made with Gortex – refer to EWG’s Skin Deep guide for alternatives
- Use a water filter for drinking and food prep water – the most powerful option is a reverse osmosis filtration system. There are now on the counter options as well as under the counter options available
The next step is to help your body get rid of the toxins. This can be done through several ways.
First, I recommend doing a functional medicine detox. I love this one by Equi.life. They have a 7-day, 14-day and 21-day detox. If you’ve never done one before, I highly recommend doing the 21-day detox.
For ongoing detoxification, sweating or using a sauna several days per week can make a significant difference. See my sauna article here for the benefits.
Finally, for detoxification support, using a good quality chlorella when you eat foods that may be high in heavy metals such as halibut and tuna. This will help reduce the amount of heavy metals that accumulate in your body.