Study warns against dangers of water/grease-proof substances

Women using Oral-B Glide dental floss had higher levels of chemical linked to health problems

A newly published study warns that certain consumer behaviors contribute to elevated body levels of toxic PFAS chemicals linked to numerous health problems.

PFAS are water-and grease-proof substances used in a variety of consumer products, from some dental flosses to fast food packaging, non-stick pans, waterproof clothing and stain-resistant carpets, according to the study by Silent Spring Institute, in Newton, MA, in collaboration with the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, CA.

A report on the study, published online Jan. 8 in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, appeared online at EurekAlert, an online publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Scientists are concerned about widespread exposure to PFAS because the chemicals are linked to health issues including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, low birth weight, decreased fertility and effects on the immune system.

Researchers in this study measured 11 PFAS chemicals in blood samples taken from 178 middle aged women enrolled in the Public Health Institute’s Child Health and Development Studies a multigenerational study of the impact of environmental chemicals and other factors on disease.

These blood samples were compared with results from interviews in which they asked the women about nine behaviors that could lead to higher exposures. Half of the women were non-Hispanic white, and the other half were African American.

Researchers found that women who flossed with Oral-B Glide tended to have higher levels of a type of PFAS called PFHxS (perfluorohexanesulfonic acid) in their body compared with those who didn’t. Researchers tested 18 dental flosses (including 3 Glide products) for the presence of fluorine — a marker of PFAS — using a technique called particle-induced gamma-ray emission spectroscopy. All three Glide products tested positive for fluorine, consistent with previous reports that Glide is manufactured using Teflon-like compounds. Two store brand flosses with “compare to Oral-B Glide” labeling and one floss describing itself as a “single strand Teflon fiber” tested positive for fluorine.

Overall non-Hispanic whites tended to have higher levels of two PFAS chemicals, PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFHxS, compared with African Americans. Researchers said they could not explain the differences, suggesting there are other behaviors they didn’t measure that contribute to PFAS exposure.

The project was funded by grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the California Breast Cancer Research Program and charitable donations to Silent Spring Institute.