A new study has revealed that many soft contact lenses from the US are largely made up of toxic, cancer-causing ‘forever chemicals’, Guardian reported. For the study, researchers tested 18 popular kinds of contact lenses and found extremely high levels of organic fluorine, a marker of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFA) in each.
Notably, PFAS refer to a class of 14,000 chemicals that are typically used in consumer products to make them water and heat-resistant. They are also used in a number of household items, including clothes, furniture, adhesives, packaging, and wires. They are called ”forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down.
PFAS are also linked to a host of issues like cancer, fetal complications, liver disease, kidney disease, and autoimmune disorders.
The testing, commissioned by Mamavation and Environmental Health News public health blogs searched for traces of organic flourine in lenses by brands Acuvue, Alcon and Coopervision. Flourine was detected between 105 parts per million (ppm) to 20,700 ppm.
The results imply that all of the tested contact lenses tested exceeded 100 ppm, which is equivalent to 100,000,000 ppt, or 50,000 times more than the highest level deemed safe in drinking water by the EPA.
Scott Belcher, a North Carolina State University researcher, told The Guardian ”you could consider the lenses almost pure PFAS.”
The three lenses with the highest amounts of organic fluorine were Alcon Air Optix (No Hydraglide) for Astigmatism (20,000ppm), Alcon Air Optix Colors with Smartshield Technology (20,700ppm) and Alcon Total30 Contact Lenses for Daily Wear (20,400ppm).
As of now, it is not clear as to what sort of health effects PFAS exposure through contact lenses would have, because no studies on how the eyes take in PFAS from lenses have been conducted.
Not only contact lenses, but all toilet paper from most regions across the world also contains toxic ”forever chemicals” and might be a significant source of water pollution.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recent studies have also linked high levels of PFAS consumption with increased cholesterol and blood pressure levels, increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer, decreased vaccine response in children, and more.