Voicing new health concerns about poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), a top federal health official and hundreds of environmental scientists have renewed a years-old debate about the safety of this class of chemicals. Over 200 environmental health experts, toxicologists, and epidemiologists recently signed a statement urging countries around the world to restrict the use of PFASs.
After studies showed that some PFASs lingered in the human body for years and appeared to increase the risk of cancer, Dupont, a leading chemical manufacturer, banned the use of one type of PFAS in its teflon products. With this ban comes the need to develop replacement chemicals that can be used in products as diverse as textiles, hospital gowns, furnishings, electronics, footwear, and sleeping bags.
While chemical companies assert that this new crop of PFASs are safe, scientists continue to question whether enough research has been done to justify the widespread use of these alternatives, that are essentially a “brother-in-law” to a chemical that is carcinogenic. Until a consensus has been reached among scientists and chemical companies, environmental and health specialists are urging consumers to avoid products containing PFASs whenever possible.
The Healthy Interiors goal, part of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative’s Safer Chemicals Challenge, has prioritized furnishings that do not contain per and poly-fluorinated compounds due to emerging concerns. If your hospital hasn’t adopted this Challenge, please consider adopting it and working to make health care interiors safer.
[Source: New York Times]