The dangers of ‘secret’ chemicals

Chemicals such as perfluorinated substances (PFASs) and certain pesticides are among the most dangerous to human health because people have been unwittingly exposed to them for years, according to an expert from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“Some industrial chemicals have turned out to be much more toxic than we thought, in part because toxicity reports were hidden by the producers,” said Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health, in a February 24, 2020 article in Gizmodo. “Accordingly, too little attention was paid to the possible health risks from these ‘secret’ chemicals.” PFASs, which have water- and grease-resistant properties, are used in a wide range of products, including nonstick pans, waterproof clothing, carpets, and firefighting foam. They’ve been linked with health issues such as cancer, diabetes, and immune system problems.

Certain pesticides such as chlorpyrifos, also thought for decades to be safe, are now thought to be highly toxic, Grandjean added.

Grandjean was also mentioned in a February 26 Undark article about PFAS contamination in drinking water sources, and ongoing legal battles against certain manufacturers that produce and use PFASs. The article cited Grandjean’s 2012 study that found that PFAS exposure lowered children’s immune responses to vaccinations. Grandjean told Undark that it’s possible that immunotoxicity linked to PFASs could contribute to increased cancer risk.

Read the Gizmodo article: What’s the Most Toxic Chemical?

Read the Undark article: Industrial Pollution Is in Your Blood. Is That a Form of Battery?