If you are a contact lens user, recent research findings may cause you to rethink your choices. A recent study indicates that numerous soft contact lenses available in the U.S. could contain harmful polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals.”
The Mamavation conducted the study, analyzing 18 sets of contact lenses from three leading brands. They tested each set for organic fluorine, a key component of PFAS. Disturbingly, all tested sets contained varying amounts of this harmful substance.
“Your eyes are one of the most delicate parts of your body,” says Linda Birnbaum, former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health and the National Toxicology Program. She expresses deep concern over the discovery of organic fluorine, a PFAS variant, in all tested contact lenses.
PFAS comprises a range of synthetic chemicals found in everyday household items such as non-stick cookware, cosmetics, and weather-resistant clothing. These substances are known for their resistance to water and stains. However, they are also associated with numerous health issues, including kidney cancer, thyroid disease, and testicular cancer.
The study found organic fluorine concentrations in the contact lenses ranging from 105 to 20,700 parts per million (ppm). Around 22 percent of the lenses contained over 18,000 ppm, and 44 percent had over 4,000 ppm. These concentrations are shocking when compared to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) advisory levels for PFAS in drinking water, which range from 0.004 parts per trillion to 2,000 parts per trillion.
Pete Myers, Chief Scientist at Environmental Health Sciences, acknowledges the challenges of comparing PFAS levels in water and contact lenses. Still, he points out the alarmingly high fluorine content in all tested lenses. Myers states that this concentration is “50,000 times higher than the highest level deemed safe in drinking water by the EPA.”
While no research conclusively links PFAS exposure to eye diseases, the sensitivity of the human eye warrants concern over contact lenses as a possible exposure route.
A 2020 study from China found that adults with elevated PFAS blood levels might be at higher risk for specific eye conditions. Terrence Collins, director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Green Sciences, advises caution, recommending that users avoid such contact lenses.
While researchers continue to explore this issue, it may be prudent to explore alternatives to soft contact lenses or opt for brands that certify their products as PFAS-free.
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- Activists Call on UN to Declare PFAS Pollution a Human Rights Violation
- Say Goodbye to ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Your Tap Water: Revolutionary Canadian Technology Takes on PFAS
- Petition: Urge EPA to Ban Non-Essential Use of PFAS
- 8 Horrifying Facts about PFAs
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