Forever chemicals in pet food, baby clothes and more: What you need to know

Dangerous chemicals in your baby’s clothes and that bag of dog food are called forever chemicals and they’re linked to cancer and other serious health problems.

Forever chemicals known as PFAS are highly toxic. New testing found them in baby supplies and everything from bedding to clothes to toys.

And, in the packaging of some popular brands of dog and cat food.

Ladarius Jackson’s dog, Cecilia, is full of energy as she plays fetch at Midtown Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. But what Jackson feeds her at night could slow her down with forever chemicals.

“It’s actually kind of scary to know that. I didn’t know that,” Jackson said.

>> PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ about to get their first US limits

The Environmental Working group, a nonprofit, focused of protecting public health, had an independent lab test bags of sever popular pet food brands. The tests found fluorine, which indicates the likely presence of PFAs in all of them, including Cecilia’s kibble.

Further testing found specific PFAS in four brands.

Sydney Evans with the Environmental Working Group said forever chemicals build up in our bodies and our pets over time and never break down in the environment.

“PFAs are so toxic at such low levels that any level really is a cause for concern,” Evans said. “Earlier on, studies were showing links to various kinds of cancer, to thyroid issues.”

The nonprofit also sent 34 samples of baby items, including clothes, bedding, and toys to the lab. All contained fluorine. Further testing found detectable levels of PFAS in 10 samples.

Forever chemicals end up as dust in our homes where you can breathe it in. The biggest concern is pets and children crawling around on the floor.

“And, with that hand-to-mouth behavior, exploring the world through their hands, through their mouths, playing with toys, crawling on the ground, they’re more likely to ingest the PFAS,” Evans said.

>> Report highlights forever chemicals in clothes; outdoor industry among worst offenders

The PFAs test results were taken to Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff, who is also a father.

“I’ve got a 14-month-old baby girl and it’s a worst nightmare for a parent,” Ossof said.

He shared a letter he sent to the EPA administrator urging the agency to do more to identify products with PFAS.

“We need to understand definitively whether in baby clothes or crib sheets or other products, there is hazards to their health posed by these PFAS chemicals,” Ossoff said.

Those forever chemicals are in everything from drinking water to personal care products. However, Evans said you should try and limit our exposure.

“And all that is going to make a difference for your exposure levels, for your body burden and ultimately the risks for health effects in the end,” Evans said.

A group representing pet food makers said, “Pet Food Institute members are committed to the production of safe, nutritious pet food that meets or exceeds all state and federal product safety regulation.”

However, Holistic Veterinarian Dr. Judy Morgan recommends doing your homework.

“Definitely stop purchasing the foods that were found to have very high levels of the PFAS in them, and switch to something that is going to be a healthier alternative for your pet,” Morgan said.

That’s something Jackson said he’s going to do.

“Now, I know what to keep it away and let my friends know,” Jackson said.

You can find the specific brands of pet food bags and baby items that contain PFAS on our Weblinks page.

You can reduce your exposure to the forever chemicals by filtering your water. Also, stay away from stain resistant and waterproof products – they tend to have more.

It’s also suggested that you cook at home to avoid PFAS in food wrappers and take-out containers. And make dusting a regular part of your routine cleaning at home.