Washington: In a recent study it has been found that unnecessary exposure of harmful chemicals to humans must be avoided. It should only be used when essential in terms of health, safety and many more.
The story was published in the journal, ‘ Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts’
In this study, researchers proposed a structure based on the concept of “essential use” to understand whether a chemical is really needed in a particular application.
The researchers demonstrated the concept of a class of synthetic chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).
PFAS are used in many consumer goods because of their unique ingredients such as water and stain repellency. However, a number of scientists and health professionals expressed concerns over the use of these chemicals since they persist for a very long time, seep into our water and soil system, and may adversely impact human health and wildlife.
Human health problems adversely affected by PFAS exposure are kidney and testicular cancer, liver malfunction, hypothyroidism, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, lower birth weight and size, obesity, and decreased the immune response to vaccines.
The study also classified several uses of PFAS as “non-essential”. For example, the study points out that it may be nice to have water-repelling surfer shorts, but in this instance, water repellency is not essential. Other products analyzed with the Essential Use Framework include skin care products and cosmetics, durable water repellency and stain resistance in textiles, food contact materials, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, laboratory supplies and ski waxes.
Some users may be regarded as essential in terms of health and safety, e.g., fire-fighting foams, but functional alternatives have been developed that can be substituted instead.
Ian Cousins, the lead author of the study, said, “Our hope is the approach can inform and encourage manufacturers, retailers and end users to consider phasing out and substituting uses of PFASs.”
“A starting point would be the phase-out of the multiple non-essential uses of PFASs, which are driven primarily by market opportunity,” Cousins added.