Per/Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) – What Are Forever Chemicals & How Do We Avoid Them?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (aka “forever chemicals”) are getting a lot of attention lately… but what exactly are PFAS? What are forever chemicals and how do they impact our health? How can you best protect yourself and your family from forever chemicals? Does your makeup contain PFAS?

Here’s what you need to know ASAP! Keep reading to learn more.

What are forever chemicals?

(Note: This article contains affiliate links, meaning In On Around will make a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps me maintain the site. As always, I value full transparency & only work with brands I love and trust.)

What Are Forever Chemicals Or PFAS?

PFAS are “a group of man-made chemicals,” including PFOA, PFOS, GenX etc…

  • Also known as “forever chemicals”
  • PFOA and PFOS are the two most used groups
  • They became popular in the 1950s 

Essentially, forever chemicals are toxic chemicals that accumulate in the environment & in our bodies over time.

Why Is This Important?

PFAS do NOT break down in the environment or in our bodies… meaning they accumulate over time. There is VERY little research surrounding the widespread use of PFAS. 

It’s becoming an increasingly alarming problem since we don’t fully understand how forever chemicals will impact our health long-term.

PFAS never break down in the environment or in our bodies.

How Do Forever Chemicals Impact Your Health?

PFAS are potentially linked to: 

  • Testicular, kidney, liver, and pancreatic cancer
  • Weakened childhood immunity
  • Low birth weight
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Increased cholesterol
  • Weight gain in children and dieting adults

Regulations on PFAS are very outdated.

According to the NRDC, “the federal government still allows companies to dump PFAS into rivers, lakes, and streams or to release them into the air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t even require disclosure of PFAS use or track the chemicals in our environment or drinking water.” This is unacceptable. The regulations around forever chemicals are significantly out-of-date.

The EWG “identified 13 different PFAS chemicals in nearly 200 products from 28 brands. And it’s not just in makeup: PFAS are found in sunscreen, shampoo, and shaving cream.” This is a widespread issue that needs more attention.

Where Are Forever Chemicals (PFAS) Found? 

Forever chemicals (aka PFAS) can be found in a wide range of products, including:

  • Food packaging & wrappers (20+ chemicals are allowed to reduce leakage through packaging)
  • Drinking water (both tap & bottled)
  • Personal care products, like polishes
  • Home and cleaning products, like paints, stain-resistant sprays, nonstick products (including Teflon cookware)…
  • Plastics
  • Textiles
  • Production facilities
  • Contaminated soil

… the list goes on! (it’s even found in many pizza boxes & microwaved popcorn bags).

If a product is “water-resistant” or “water-proof” it could have been sprayed with forever chemicals. While these products can be convenient (who wants a soggy pizza box?!), it can do significant damage to our health long-term.

How Can You Limit Your Exposure To PFAS? 

While it’s nearly impossible to decrease your exposure all-together, you have the power to significantly reduce your exposure to forever chemicals.

Follow these tips to reduce your exposure to forever chemicals:

1 – Use a high-quality water filter that removes PFAS

  • You can read more about water filters here.
  • The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has an interactive online map that details levels of PFAS in drinking water throughout the United States.
  • I use filtered water for drinking AND cooking, even if boiled. Forever chemicals can hide in both tap water and bottled water, so it’s important to use the highest quality water filter available (aka a reverse osmosis filter).

2 – Choose Organic

  • Choose organic whenever possible and wash your produce thoroughly
  • You can read more about properly washing produce here.

3 – Avoid Nonstick Cookware

  • Opt for glass or high-quality stainless steel instead. Most nonstick cookware is sprayed with forever chemicals. This is a huge issue since it can chip or leech directly into your food!
  • To learn more about cookware, check out: Ceramic vs Stainless Steel Cookware – Non-Toxic Guide

4 – Avoid Cosmetics With Certain Ingredients

  • Avoid cosmetics that use PTFE, or any word containing “perfluor” or “polyfluor” on the ingredient list (according to Green Science Policy Institute).
  • Forever chemicals are commonly found in makeup products – be very wary!
  • To learn more about the ingredients you should avoid in cosmetics, check out our Clean Beauty Checklist E-Book.

5 – Limit Packaged Foods

  • Limit takeout and packaged foods. Food packaging is a common source of forever chemicals.

6 – Use A Shower Filter

  • Use an activated-charcoal shower filter, like AquaBliss.

7 – Avoid Stain-Resistant Products

  • Look at the labels on your rugs & carpets. Especially avoid those sprayed to be “stain-resistant.” Especially be aware of this if you have kids constantly crawling on the floor or pets.

8 – Avoid Waterproofed Products

Forever Chemicals (PFAS) have also been found in many popular drink brands, such as Topo Chico (owned by Coca-Cola Company), and fitness attire, like Old Navy and Lululemon yoga pants. Be wary with anything using “sweat wicking” technology – sometimes those can use textiles that are sprayed with PFAS.

Using a high-quality water filter is a great way to reduce your daily PFAS exposure.

Note: most water filters do not filter out forever chemicals!

PFAS On Your Health – Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the below FAQs to learn more about how PFAS can impact your health!

What are PFAS?


PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS are also known as “forever chemicals,” since they do not break down in the environment or in our bodies.

Why are PFAS ("Forever Chemicals") harmful?


PFAS are harmful because these man-made chemicals are potentially linked to many health issues. Some of these possible health issues are low birth weight, endocrine disruption, testicular, kidney, liver, and pancreatic cancer.

What products contain forever chemicals?


PFAS (aka “forever chemicals”) are found in products that many people use daily. These products include food packaging, tap and bottled water, shampoo, makeup, plastic, and so much more.

How can I limit exposure to forever chemicals?


Fortunately, there are many ways to limit and avoid PFAS (“forever chemical”) exposure. You can limit PFAS exposure by using a water filter that removes PFAS, switching to organic products, using a shower filter, and avoiding nonstick cookware.

Forever chemicals (PFAS) are becoming an increasingly concerning environmental and human toxicant. Protect yourself as much as possible, since these chemicals can have long-lasting health impacts.

How will you limit PFAS in your daily life? Comment down below!

Watch our web story here!


Want to read more? Check out my other articles here!

“What are Forever Chemicals” and “Does makeup contain PFAS” information provided by EPA, MLive, NRDC, Consumer Reports, Environmental Health News, & Environmental Working Group

Copyright In On Around LLC 2021 © The statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration). They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided by this website should not be used as individual medical advice and you should always consult your doctor for individual recommendations and treatment.

About Catherine Power

Catherine Power is the Founder and CEO of In On Around. She is a Harvard-educated Ingredient Safety and Environmental Toxins expert. Catherine has a background in Food Science, Personal Care Quality, and Regulatory Compliance.

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