Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, Aka Teflon®)

Teflon® in your makeup? Yuck. This non-stick ingredient and other fluorinated compounds have been associated with delayed menstruation, later breast development and cancer.

FOUND IN: Foundation, pressed powder, loose powder, bronzer, blush, eye shadow, mascara, shave gel, lip balm, anti-aging lotion

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), Polyperfluoromethylisopropyl Ether, DEA-C8-18 Perfluoroalkylethyl Phosphate, Teflon

WHAT ARE FLUORINATED COMPOUNDS? Fluorinated compounds are ingredients built around the element fluorine, a halogen element, with properties similar to chlorine and bromine, which are common in flame retardant chemicals.MORE...

 Fluorinated compounds are extremely stable and as a result do not break down in the environment. They have been found in remote regions of the world, including the polar ice caps.2

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) appears to be the most common fluorinated compound in cosmetics. It is used most widely in anti-aging products and cosmetics, likely because it provides a smooth, sleek finish. PTFE is trademarked as Teflon®, for use in non-stick cookware.

PTFE is generated using another fluorinated compound, perfluorooctonoic acid (PFOA), which may leave residual amounts of PFOA in the final ingredient.3 The US EPA initiated the PFOA stewardship program to reduce PFOA residues in consumer products.4 While research suggests that most PFOA exposure results from its use in food contact items, indirect exposure from consumer products is also likely.5 PFOA in food contact materials may be as high as 300 ppb (in popcorn bags); but to our knowledge, no studies have yet assessed PFOA contamination in cosmetics containing PTFE. 

HEALTH CONCERNS: Potential contamination with perfluorooctonoic acid (PFOA) which is associated with cancer; mammary cancer; reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption and environmental bioaccumulation and persistence MORE...

The International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed the research on PTFE, and determined the current data was inconclusive with regard to PTFE’s potential to cause cancer. However, a wide-ranging literature has linked PFOA, which can be a contaminant of PTFE-containing consumer products, to health effects. In addition to the specific health effects from PFOA’s, researchers have found evidence that exposures to fluorinated compounds may increase the carcinogenicity of other chemicals when exposures occur together.6

PFOA has been found in body fluid samples from 99.7 percent of the U.S. adults.7 Other studies have found PFOA in blood serum samples taken from adults from nine countries on four continents,8 and an additional study found PFOA in every one of the umbilical cord blood samples from newborns in Baltimore.9 Higher levels of the chemical in cord blood were associated with both lower birth weight and smaller size, indicating an effect of PFOA on prenatal development.10

 

Cancer: The International Agency for Research on Cancer has designated PFOA as a possible carcinogen. Changes have been observed in mammary gland development in animals,11,12 which may have implications for breast cancer risk in exposed girls.13 The mammary gland may be especially sensitive to PFOA exposure, and both prenatal and early postnatal exposure may lead to concerning changes in mammary gland development.14

One study found elevated levels of fluorinated compounds in Greenland Inuit women with breast cancer compared to Inuit women without breast cancer.15 A study of highly contaminated regions of Ohio and West Virginia found elevated levels of testicular, prostate, kidney and ovarian cancers and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among individuals with higher exposures to PFOA.

Endocrine Disruption: PFOA exerts effects on the endocrine system, disruptingestrogen receptors,16 thyroid receptors17,18, steroid hormones19 , and male testosterone levels.20 Another study found further evidence that PFOA can act as an estrogen on its own, but this study also found that in the presence of the natural estrogen, estradiol, PFOA acted as an anti-estrogen.21

Higher concentrations of PFOA and a related compound perfluorooctane sulfanate (PFOS) were associated with current thyroid disease among US adults.22

Delayed Puberty: In southeastern Ohio, adolescent girls with higher levels of PFOA in their blood, were more likely to have delayed onset of menstruation.23 Another study of Ohio girls demonstrated that exposures to higher levels of PFOA were associated with later breast development.24 While earlier breast development is a known risk factor for breast cancer, these data support a potential endocrine-disrupting effect of PFOA, which may lead to other health effects later in life.

Reproductive Toxicity: PFOA is a known developmental toxicant25. PFOA exposure in utero leads to reduced weight gain during lactation, delayed sexual maturation and death in rodents26. In humans, PFOA exposure was associated with pregnancy-induced hypertension (high-blood pressure), and PFOS was associated with reduced birth-weight in full-term infants27. Higher levels of the chemical in cord blood were associated with both lower birth weight and smaller size, indicating an effect of PFOA on prenatal development28. In a novel study of PFOA exposures among pregnant women in an electronic waste recycling area in China, mothers living in the area had higher PFOA levels than mothers in other areas; and exposures were associated with delayed physical development and adverse birth outcomes.29 

Other effects Both PFOA and PFOS have been associated with changes to the immune response, including inflammation.30 Research does not suggest an association between early life PFOA exposure and obesity in adulthood31 or Type II diabetes.32 

VULNERABLE POPULATIONS: Pregnant women, children

REGULATIONS: PFOA: US EPA set a provisional health advisory for levels above .4 ppb in drinking water1

HOW TO AVOID: To avoid PFOA exposure from personal care products, skip products with polyperfluoromethylisopropyl ether, polytetrafluoroethylene, DEA-C8-18 perfluoroalkylethyl phosphate or Teflon® on the label.

References

1 USEPA (2014). Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Fluorinated Telomers. Available at:http://www.epa.gov/oppt/pfoa/pubs/activities.html#ow. Accessed September 25, 2014.
2Lau, C., Anitole, K., Hodes, C., Lai, D., Pfahles-Hutchens, A., & Seed, J. (2007). Perfluoroalkyl acids: a review of monitoring and toxicological findings.Toxicological sciences99(2), 366-394.
3Van der Putte, I., Murín, M., Van Velthoven, M., & Affourtit, F. (2010). Analysis of the risks arising from the industrial use of perfuorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and ammonium perfluorooctanoate (APFO) and from their use in consumer articles.Delft (NL): RPS Advies.
4U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). (2006). Announcement of Stewardship Program by Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/pfoa/pubs/stewardship/. Accessed September 25, 2014.
5Trudel, D., Horowitz, L., Wormuth, M., Scheringer, M., Cousins, I. T., & Hungerbühler, K. (2008). Estimating consumer exposure to PFOS and PFOA.Risk Analysis28(2), 251-269.
6Jensen, A. A., & Leffers, H. (2008). Emerging endocrine disrupters: perfluoroalkylated substances. International Journal of Andrology31(2), 161–169. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2605.2008.00870.x
7A.M. Calafat, L.Y. Wong, Z. Kuklenyik, J.A. Reidy, L.L. Needham (2007). Polyfluoroalkyl chemicals in the US population: data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–2004 and comparisons with NHANES 1999–2000. Environ. Health Perspect., 115, 1596–1602.
8K. Kannan, S. Corsolini, J. Falandysz, G. Fillmann, K.S. Kumar, B.G. Loganathan, M.A. Mohd, J. Olivero, N. Van Wouwe, J.H. Yang, K.M. Aldous. Perfluorooctanesulfonate and related fluorochemicals in human blood from several countries. Environ. Sci. Technol., 38, 4489–4495.
9Apelberg, B. J., Goldman, L. R., Calafat, A. M., Herbstman, J. B., Kuklenyik, Z., Heidler, J., … Witter, F. R. (2007). Determinants of fetal exposure to polyfluoroalkyl compounds in Baltimore, Maryland. Environ Sci Tech, 41(11), 3891–3897.
10Apelberg, B. J., Witter, F. R., Herbstman, J. B., Calafat, A. M., Halden, R. U., Needham, L. L., & Goldman, L. R. (2007). Cord serum concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) in relation to weight and size at birth. Environ Health Persp, 115(11), 1670–1676.
11Yang, C., Tan, Y.S., Harkema, J.R., Haslam, S.Z. Differential effects of peripubertal exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid on mammary gland development in C57Bl/6 and Balb/c mouse strains
(2009) Reproductive Toxicology, 27 (3-4), pp. 299-306.
12Zhao, Y., Tan, Y. S., Haslam, S. Z., & Yang, C. (2010). Perfluorooctanoic acid effects on steroid hormone and growth factor levels mediate stimulation of peripubertal mammary gland development in C57BL/6 mice. Toxicological sciences, kfq030.
13Van der Putte, I., Murín, M., Van Velthoven, M., & Affourtit, F. (2010). Analysis of the risks arising from the industrial use of perfuorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and ammonium perfluorooctanoate (APFO) and from their use in consumer articles.Delft (NL): RPS Advies.
14White, S.S., Kato, K., Jia, L.T., Basden, B.J., Calafat, A.M., Hines, E.P., Stanko, J.P., Wolf, C.J., Abbott,
B.D., Fenton, S.E. Effects of perfluorooctanoic acid on mouse mammary gland development and differentiation resulting from cross-foster and restricted gestational exposures (2009) Reproductive Toxicology, . Article in Press.
15Bonefeld-Jorgensen, E. C., Long, M., Bossi, R., Ayotte, P., Asmund, G., Krüger, T., … Dewailly, E. (2011). Perfluorinated compounds are related to breast cancer risk in Greenlandic Inuit: a case control study. Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source10, 88. doi:10.1186/1476-069X-10-88
16 Guizhen Du, Hongyu Huang, Jialei Hu, Yufeng Qin, Di Wu, Ling Song, Yankai Xia, Xinru Wang
Endocrine-related effects of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in zebrafish, H295R steroidogenesis and receptor reporter gene assays. Chemosphere, Volume 91, Issue 8, May 2013, Pages 1099–1106.
17Guizhen Du, Hongyu Huang, Jialei Hu, Yufeng Qin, Di Wu, Ling Song, Yankai Xia, Xinru Wang
Endocrine-related effects of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in zebrafish, H295R steroidogenesis and receptor reporter gene assays. Chemosphere, Volume 91, Issue 8, May 2013, Pages 1099–1106.
18Manhai Long, Mandana Ghisari, Eva Cecilie Bonefeld-Jørgensen. Effects of perfluoroalkyl acids on the function of the thyroid hormone and the aryl hydrocarbon receptor Environmental Science and Pollution Research. November 2013, Volume 20, Issue 11, pp 8045-8056.
19Guizhen Du, Hongyu Huang, Jialei Hu, Yufeng Qin, Di Wu, Ling Song, Yankai Xia, Xinru Wang
Endocrine-related effects of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in zebrafish, H295R steroidogenesis and receptor reporter gene assays. Chemosphere, Volume 91, Issue 8, May 2013, Pages 1099–1106.
20Hongxia Zhang, Yin Lu, Bin Luo, Shengmin Yan, Xuejiang Guo, and Jiayin Dai. Proteomic Analysis of Mouse Testis Reveals Perfluorooctanoic Acid-Induced Reproductive Dysfunction via Direct Disturbance of Testicular Steroidogenic Machinery. J. Proteome Res., 2014, 13 (7), pp 3370–3385. DOI: 10.1021/pr500228d. June 18, 2014
21Henry ND, Fair PA. J Appl Toxicol. 2013 Apr;33(4):265-72. doi: 10.1002/jat.1736. Epub 2011 Sep 21.
Comparison of in vitro cytotoxicity, estrogenicity and anti-estrogenicity of triclosan, perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid.
22Melzer, D., Rice, N., Depledge, M. H., Henley, W. E., & Galloway, T. S. (2010). Association between serum perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and thyroid disease in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Environmental health perspectives118(5), 686.
23Lopez-Espinosa, M.-J., Fletcher, T., Armstrong, B., Genser, B., Dhatariya, K., Mondal, D., … Leonardi, G. (2011). Association of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) with age of puberty among children living near a chemical plant. Environmental Science & Technology45(19), 8160–8166. doi:10.1021/es1038694
24 Pinney, S., Windham, G., Biro, F. M., Kushi, L., Yaghjyan, L., Calafat, A. M., … Bornschein, R. (2009). Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and pubertal maturation in young girls. Epidemiology, 20(6), S80.
25White, S. S., Fenton, S. E., & Hines, E. P. (2011). Endocrine disrupting properties of perfluorooctanoic acid. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology127(1), 16-26.
26Van der Putte, I., Murín, M., Van Velthoven, M., & Affourtit, F. (2010). Analysis of the risks arising from the industrial use of perfuorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and ammonium perfluorooctanoate (APFO) and from their use in consumer articles.Delft (NL): RPS Advies.
Lyndsey A. Darrow, 1 Cheryl R. Stein,2 and Kyle Steenland. Serum Perfluorooctanoic Acid and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Concentrations in Relation to Birth Outcomes in the Mid-Ohio Valley, 2005–2010. Environ Health Perspect. Oct 1, 2013; 121(10): 1207–1213.
Apelberg, B. J., Witter, F. R., Herbstman, J. B., Calafat, A. M., Halden, R. U., Needham, L. L., & Goldman, L. R. (2007). Cord serum concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) in relation to weight and size at birth. Environ Health Persp, 115(11), 1670–1676.
29Kusheng Wua, b, Xijin Xua, Lin Penga, c, Junxiao Liua, Yongyong Guoa, Xia Huoa
Association between maternal exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) from electronic waste recycling and neonatal health outcomes. Environment International, Volume 48, 1 November 2012, Pages 1–8.
30 Jamie C. DeWitt, Alexander Shnyra, Mostafa Z. Badr, Scott E. Loveless, Denise Hoban, Steven R. Frame, Robyn Cunard, Stacey E. Anderson, B. Jean Meade, Margie M. Peden-Adams, Robert W. Luebke, Michael I. Luster. Immunotoxicity of Perfluorooctanoic Acid and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and the Role of Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Alpha. Critical Reviews in Toxicology, January 2009, Vol. 39, No. 1 : Pages 76-94.
31Barry, V, Darrow LA, Klein M, Winquis A, Steenland K. Early life perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) exposure and overweight and obesity risk in adulthood in a community with elevated exposure Environmental Research Volume 132, July 2014, Pages 62–69
32Conny Karnes,Andrea Winquist, Kyle Steenland. Incidence of type II diabetes in a cohort with substantial exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid. Environmental Research, Volume 128, January 2014, Pages 78–83.