Tips on Limiting Your Exposure to Forever Chemicals

Tips on Limiting Your Exposure to Forever Chemicals

By M.C. Millman 

With forever chemical exposure recently linked to cancer in the first human study, experts offer tips on reducing exposure. 

Forever chemicals can be found in a wide variety of everyday things, especially with over 9,000 kinds of these chemicals. The main areas to look out for these chemicals are cookware, food packaging, water, and personal care products. 


Most nonstick cookware (such as Teflon) is coated with a forever chemical. This includes nonstick cookie sheets, most air fryers, and other cookware. The chemicals on your cookware can transfer directly into your food. Fumes are also released into the air when nonstick cookware is heated to high temperatures. 

For nonstick without toxicity, look for ceramic cookware, which has a naturally nonstick surface. Other options include stainless steel and cast iron. Don't be fooled by cookware labels that say "PFOA- free". Companies can replace one kind of forever chemical with a lesser-known chemical cousin that is likely just as damaging. 

If it is not feasible to replace your cookware, proper use of nonstick products can reduce the amount of forever chemicals released. Avoid scraping nonstick cookware with metal utensils, steel wool, or abrasive cleaners, and don't overheat it when cooking. Temperatures above 400 degrees can also release the coating into the environment. 

Food Packaging: 

Both heat and time increase the transfer of forever chemicals into the food from packaging. Limit exposure by transferring takeout food out of the packaging as soon as possible. Be sure not to reheat food in takeout containers. 

One food highlighted for forever chemical exposure is microwave popcorn. The bags can be coated with high levels of forever chemicals, and the heat transfers the chemical easily. 


Many public drinking water systems are contaminated with forever chemicals that regular refrigerator filters or Brita filters cannot remove. 

To check if your drinking water is safe, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has an interactive map HERE. If your location has contaminated water, see the EWG water filter guide for safe drinking water HERE

Personal Care Products:

Products such as water-resistant cosmetics and dental floss can contain forever chemicals. To limit your exposure, look at the ingredients in foundation, lip products, mascara, hairspray, and other personal care products. Ingredient lists containing "PTFE", "fluoro-", or "perfluoro", should be avoided. The EWG has a database to search different products and identify those with forever chemicals or other concerning ingredients. See the database HERE.

Photo: Flickr

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