Scientists at the University of Notre Dame have disclosed that many cosmetics sold in the US and Canada contain high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of potentially toxic compounds that cause a range of serious and deadly diseases. The findings are published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology Letters.
The researchers tested 231 cosmetic products, including concealers, foundations, eyelash and eyebrow products and various lip products, using gamma spectroscopy. It found that 56 percent of the foundations and eye creams, 48 percent of the lip products and 47 percent of the mascaras tested contained high levels of fluoride. Of the eight categories tested, foundations, mascaras and lip products had the highest proportion of products with high total fluoride content (greater than or equal to 0.384 micrograms per square centimeter).
Twenty-nine products, including 20 products with high total fluoride concentrations, were analyzed using gas and liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry. PFAS concentrations ranged from 22 to 10,500 nanograms per gram of product weight. Fluorotelomeric compounds, including alcohols, methacrylates, and phosphoric acid esters, which are precursors of PFAS, were the most frequently detected.
Alarmingly, the ingredient lists of most products tested did not disclose the presence of fluorinated compounds. PFAS are persistent toxic substances that tend to accumulate in the human body. Studies have linked some fluoride-containing compounds to kidney and testicular cancer, hypertension, thyroid disease, low birth weight, and immune system disorders in children.