Protecting Yourself from Toxic Forever Chemicals
Toxic forever chemicals. Rising cases of sickness. A shocking cover up. It has the makings of a Hollywood movie. Indeed, the release of the blockbuster film Dark Waters had all of these gripping plot points, based on the true story of how a toxic chemical called PFOA contaminated a West Virginia town’s water supply.
Thanks in part to the movie and increased media attention about toxic chemicals, more communities across the U.S. are discovering their drinking water may be contaminated by PFOA or one of the other related chemicals in a category called PFAS (perfluoroalkyl substances).
Whether you know it or not, it’s likely you already have PFAS in your body. The CDC estimates that as many as 97% of Americans have detectable levels of PFAS in their blood (1).
Most PFAS are Toxic Forever Chemicals
Scientists have found that PFAS never degrade or break down (2). For this reason, PFAS are dubbed “forever chemicals.” This means once PFAS get into the environment, they persist virtually forever. And research shows that it takes years before any PFAS starts to leave your body (3).
The problem is that this issue has been undetected for decades. For the past 60 years, industrial companies used PFAS for a wide range of applications. This includes carpet protectants, food packaging, pesticides, non-stick cookware, waterproof textiles, stain repellants, and pesticides.
Companies had the public convinced that these chemicals were completely safe. But it turns out that multiple organizations have suppressed the truth about PFAS to protect their profits (4).
Thanks to several independently funded studies, researchers have now uncovered the cold hard truth: PFAS have poisoned the environment on a global scale and are a serious threat to virtually every person on this planet.
The Pervasive Reach of PFAS
Once PFAS get into the environment, they readily make their way into the food chain, going from the factory floor to drinking water and even the dinner table with ease.
PFAS leach into the environment from a wide range of sources. This includes landfills, factories, and military bases. From these sites, PFAS contaminate the air, soil, and water.
Due to the fact that PFAS are water soluble, they readily leach into groundwater and travel far. One report in the prestigious scientific journal Nature revealed that “PFAS were found in the drinking water of more than 16 million Americans in 33 states” (5). And experts believe that due to a lack of data in many states, these numbers are grossly underestimated (6).
But you don’t even have to have PFAS in your water supply to be exposed. People often turn to bottled water either for convenience or because they have concerns about the quality of their tap water. Yet recent tests show that many bottled water brands tested positive for PFAS (7).
Unfortunately, water isn’t the only way you can get exposed to PFAS. These forever chemicals can also make their way into your body through eating food cooked in non-stick cookware or from the dust within your own home.
Even worse, PFAS have invaded the food chain. Research shows that food wrappers used in take-out or fast-food packaging have PFAS, meaning you get a dose of toxic chemicals with every bite (8).
The Alarming Health Effects of PFAS
PFAS chemicals are readily absorbed by your gut. And when they get in the bloodstream, they stick around for a very long time. Some of these toxins are shown to stay in the body for up to 15 years before they are excreted (9).
Reports published by the National Center for Environmental Health have also found PFAS in samples of human blood, urine, breast milk and even in umbilical cord blood (10). This means these chemicals are, without a doubt, making their way from the environment into humans.
Once these chemicals make their way into your system, they can cause a great deal of harm (11). Scientists have found that exposure to PFAS is linked to:
- Cancer (liver, pancreatic and others) (12)
- Hormone disruption
- High cholesterol
- Obesity (some toxins are obesogens)
- Damage to the immune system (13)
How Can You Minimize the Risks from PFAS?
It’s clear that PFAS are bad news. To make matters worse, it’s virtually impossible to completely avoid exposure. But there are steps you take to minimize the risks from PFAS and support your body’s detoxification efforts.
Avoid exposure to PFAS by ditching non-stick cookware, avoiding packaged food when possible, using an air filter in your home, and opting for organic cleaning products since standard cleaning chemicals can contain PFAS as well.
Since one of the most likely exposure points is drinking water, avoid bottled water when possible, and drink water that has been filtered. The most effective filtration system to remove PFAS is reverse osmosis, but that can be expensive. The next most effective system is an activated carbon filter (14).
Activated carbon filters work through adsorption. Basically, the PFAS stick to the surface of the activated carbon and are therefore filtered out.
Detoxifying with Natural Zeolite
Much in the same way that activated carbon filters out PFAS in water, natural mineral zeolite can act as a filter for toxins in the body. The natural zeolite Clinoptilolite is a powerful yet gentle detoxifier for long-term daily use.
A natural mineral formed from volcanic deposits, zeolites have long been used for their ability to attract and trap toxins. When cleansed and nanosized for optimal absorption, this zeolite can detoxify the body to a cellular level.
Zeolite detoxifies the body in two key ways. As a negatively-charged mineral, it works through cationic exchange. Like a magnet, it attracts positively-charged toxins and holds them within its crystalline structure. It also works via adsorption, where toxins stick to the outside of the zeolite, before passing through the body.
While studies are limited, evidence suggests that zeolite adsorbs PFAS, working to remove toxic chemicals from aqueous solutions (15, 16). Long renowned for its ability to remove heavy metals, zeolite may also be a safe and simple way to potentially reduce your exposure to PFAS.