Poisonous Presents?

It’s that time of year when you might find yourself staring down an endless aisle of colorful products vying for your attention, clambering to make it under your Christmas tree.

At the grocery store you might analyze turkeys, candy canes, treats, and – inevitably – the cleaning supplies you’ll need to employ in their wake. But some of those products lining the shelves have no business entering your home this holiday season – they contain toxic PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl) chemicals that are harmful to people, pets and the environment.

PFAS chemicals are persistent, meaning they are extremely hard to get rid of; mobile, meaning they can be easily transferred to humans, pets, food, and other products; and toxic, meaning, well, not good for you or anyone else. They show up in all sorts of places, like takeout containers, cupcake liners, stain-proof furniture and carpets, clothing, firefighting foam, pots and pans, a multitude of industrial plants, and more. PFAS is a common ingredient in water-repellant fabrics and in non-stick cooking tools. Here’s some more info about PFAS chemicals and the products they are used in.

CVI, along with other groups nationwide, participated in an effort to test 78 food contact items from 20 stores in 12 states – including the Gem State. The resulting study found that two-thirds of paper takeout containers were likely treated with PFAS. That’s bad news, but what makes it even worse is the thing about persistence we mentioned above. That means that PFAS can survive in landfills, recycling plants, and compost piles – lurking and ready to contaminate the environment and new products.

Is that turkey packaging starting to look a little suspicious to you? Well, we haven’t even gotten into what makes those chemicals so bad. PFAS chemicals have been linked to cancer, liver damage, kidney disease, thyroid disease, heart attacks, and strokes. These horrible health issues turned epidemic in West Virginia, when PFAS chemicals from a nearby DuPont Teflon factory contaminated the water supply of 6 different water districts, as seen in the documentary The Devil We Know, which was screened for the community by CVI at Lost Grove Brewery last week. Underlying the heartbreaking stories of PFAS contamination is a corrupt deal made between big chemical companies and federal regulators. The deal allows PFAS to continue to be used at extremely dangerous levels in a massive range of products.

The good news is that PFAS-free alternatives are available and competitively priced. Also, pressure is mounting on regulators and companies to prevent more PFAS from poisoning our environment, families, and products. And you can help! By signing our petition, you can help us encourage local companies like Albertsons to develop a more aggressive toxics policy and stop the spread of harmful chemicals.

On behalf of CVI’s staff, have a wonderful holiday season and use resources like this to help you shop smart this holiday season! Who needs Teflon to have a good time, anyway!?