Some dental floss may expose people to harmful chemicals

People who use certain types of dental floss may absorb toxic chemicals that have been linked with heart disease and cancer, according to a new study.

The study found that women who flossed with Oral-B Glide floss had higher levels of a chemical called perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) in their blood than women who didn’t use that type of floss. PFHxS is part of a large class of chemicals called PFASs, which are found in many consumer products ranging from nonstick cookware to waterproof clothing to food packaging, and are also used in firefighting foams at airports and military bases. These chemicals have been linked to liver damage, harm to the immune system, developmental issues, and cancer, and can persist in people’s bodies and in the environment for many years.

The researchers found that several types of dental floss contained fluorine, which indicates the presence of PFAS compounds.

Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who was not involved in the study, said in a January 9, 2019 Buzzfeed article that he found the study results meaningful, even though the participants could have been exposed to PFASs from other sources.

“Nonstick pans have [a] larger surface but we don’t chew on them like dental floss,” he said.

Read the Buzzfeed article: These Five Brands of Dental Floss May Expose People To Harmful Chemicals, Study Finds

Learn more

Risks of PFASs known decades before research revealed, says expert (Harvard Chan School news)