A new chemical analysis has revealed the ugly side of cosmetics, and shows that many of them may contain “permanent chemical” compounds known as PFAS, which are highly persistent and can cause damage.
PFAS, short for fluorescent surfactants, include thousands of chemicals so persistent that they can remain in the body for years, and in the environment for centuries. The health effects of only a few of these substances are known, but they have been linked to high cholesterol, thyroid disease and other problems.
“There are no known good compounds of PFAS,” says chemist and physicist Graham Beasley, of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, according to Science News.
In the first-largest survey of cosmetics looking for PFAS in the United States and Canada, Beasley and colleagues found that 42 percent of the more than 200 products tested had high concentrations of fluorine, indicating the presence of PFAS, researchers report in Environmental Science and Technology Letters. “.
Beasley says the potential health risks of these chemicals in makeup are not yet clear. But in addition to people digesting these compounds, or absorbing them when applying makeup, cosmetics that reach sewage can get into drinking water.
Paisley’s team measured the amount of fluorine, a key ingredient in PFAS, in 231 cosmetic products. It was found that 63% of foundation creams, 55% of lip products, and 82% of waterproof mascara contained high levels of fluorine, which reached 0.384 micrograms per cubic centimeter of the product, which is scattered on a sheet of paper.
Products that were particularly stable or water-resistant had a lot of fluorine in them. This makes sense, as “permanent chemicals” are water-resistant.