Bloomington [US], September 24 (ANI): A study found that pupils in the US and Canada are routinely exposed through their uniforms to possibly dangerous amounts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). All nine of the well-known brands of "stain-resistant" school uniforms that the researchers evaluated contained PFAS. Concentrations in the majority of the goods were comparable to those in outdoor apparel.
The findings of the peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Science & Technology.
"PFAS don't belong in any clothing, but their use in school uniforms is particularly concerning," said Marta Venier, senior author and professor at Indiana University. "School uniforms are worn directly on the skin for up to eight hours per day by children, who are particularly vulnerable to harm."
Children may come into contact with PFAS from treated uniforms through skin absorption, eating with unclean hands, hand-to-mouth habits, and mouthing of garments by smaller children. The main class of PFAS discovered in the uniforms, fluorotelomer alcohols, also present a risk for inhalation. Additionally, when PFAS-treated uniforms are worn, cleaned, thrown away, or recycled, they contribute to PFAS pollution of the environment.
Numerous PFAS contaminate the drinking water of many millions of people and have been linked to a wide range of substantial health risks, including cancer, obesity, and more severe COVID-19 results. All PFAS are either extremely persistent in the environment or degrade into other PFAS that are also extremely persistent, and only a small portion of the thousands of PFAS have been studied for toxicity. Additionally, several more recent PFAS that were formerly thought to be harmless have been found to be detrimental to our health.
In the United States, about 25% of kids attend school in uniform. Uniforms are required in one-fifth of public schools in the United States, with elementary and low-income schools having the highest prevalence. In Catholic and other private schools in the United States and Canada, they are considerably more prevalent.
"I don't know any parent who values stain repellency over their child's health," said Miriam Diamond, co-author and professor at the University of Toronto.
The findings of today coincide with the advancement of legislation in New York and California to gradually phase out PFAS in textiles, which would include school uniforms. Both S6291A in New York and AB1817 in California have been approved by their state legislatures and are awaiting the governors' signatures.
Arlene Blum, co-author and executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute, emphasised that the entire class of PFAS should be removed from school uniforms and any other products where they are not necessary to protect our children and future generations. "Manufacturers can reduce risk by phasing out PFAS as soon as practicable." (ANI)