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Toxic PFAS Chemicals in Dental Floss -- Woman Looking at Dental Floss


What are PFAS?

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a class of chemicals used in the manufacture of a wide range of industry and consumer products such as Teflon, dental floss and personal care products and food packaging. These chemicals break down slowly, or in some cases, not at all, and can accumulate in the environment (water, air, and soil). Animal studies and observational studies in people have linked exposure to certain PFAS to negative health effects such as altered immune and thyroid function, liver disease, lipid and insulin dysregulation, kidney disease, adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes such as low infant birth weights, and cancer (Fenton, Environ Toxicol Chem 2021; EPA 2018; CDC 2020). Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are two of the most common, and most widely studied PFAS. As discussed below, certain regulatory agencies have proposed and/or set reference values for toxicity for certain PFAS, although more research is needed to determine the exact effects of specific PFAS on human health, and at what exposure levels these may occur.

PFAS in Dental Floss and Other Dental Products

Some brands of dental floss include PFAS to reduce friction. Unfortunately, labels on dental floss are not always clear as to whether or not they contain PFAS.

Sign in as a ConsumerLab member to find out which of 18 popular dental flosses may contain PFAS and which do not, as well as the names of 6 additional dental flosses and 4 dental picks that claim to be PFAS-free, and find out how companies responded when we asked them if their dental flosses contain PFAS.

PFAS in Food and Water

Also learn about other products that contain PFAs, (including some drinking straws, drinking water, bottled water, processed foods, and certain seafoods, such as canned clams).

Plus, find out how exposure to PFAS can affect breast milk, what's being proposed in Europe to address the problem of PFAS, and which water filters seem to be best for removing PFAS from tap water. The details are all in the full answer.

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