Go PFAS-free! Shopping Guide for PFAS-free Products

Go PFAS-free! Shopping Guide for PFAS-free Products

Many products we use require PFAS for their water- and oil-resistant properties. PFAS are also used to manufacture specialized products such as firefighting foam and nonstick pans. However, PFAS breaks down extremely slowly in the human body and in the environment, and its dose will accumulate over time. High exposures to PFAS will cause health concerns for people, so avoid PFAS as much as possible to live a safer life. The article will introduce what PFAS are, related health concerns, and how to choose PFAS-free products.

What are PFAS? Forever Chemicals?

Have you seen Dark Waters? This story of a contaminated town and the attorney who took on a conglomerate, as well as residents whose health was affected, is based on true events. The contaminant in question is PFOA, a member of a chemical group called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). There are over 3,000 types of PFAS in existence, and they are referred to as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down easily in the environment or the human body, due to their stable chemical properties.

If PFAS are harmful to people and stay in the human body and the environment for a long time, why do we use PFAS? PFAS exist because of their water and oil-resistance, hence they can be found in specialized professional products such as firefighting foam, firefighter suits, aviation metals, and wire insulators, as well as products used in everyday life including food packaging and rain coats, etc. Consequently, PFAS have become an integral part of civilization. However, an increasing number of studies have shown that PFAS are harmful to animals and possibly also to the human body, thus, restricting the use of PFAS has become one of the most important chemical-management related issues internationally in recent years. Several types of PFAS such as PFOS and PFOA have been entered into Annex B of the “Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants” (its purpose is to prohibit or limit the production of persistent organic pollutants), while major economies such as the EU and the U.S. have also stipulated laws to progressively phase out PFAS. If PFAS enter the environment, it will cost much more to remove them than any economic benefits they created.

Why Do We Choose PFAS-free Products?

The current research has yet to verify the impact of PFAS on the human body; all the existing data is derived from animal testing and surveys on people living in contaminated areas, and proves that animals exposed to certain levels of PFAS will suffer from liver, thyroid, and reproductive system illnesses, as well as hindered growth. The same problems may be applicable to people who are exposed to the same substances. At present, PFAS is omnipresent throughout the water cycle and food chain. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)’s research report, in urban areas in the U.S. and regions with a history of PFAS contamination, PFAS can be detected in over 70% of drinking water. PFAS in the water and food will find their way into our bodies, and since the half-life of PFAS in the human body is at least several years, they become harmful to our health over time.

To minimize exposure to PFAS, in addition to using activated carbon or RO filtration systems for drinking water, we can also avoid using products containing them, particularly food packaging that comes in direct contact with food or clothing that is in contact with our skin for hours on end.

Shopping Guide for PFAS-Free Products

Avoid Buying Water- And Stain-Resistant Clothing and Outdoor Products

Water- and stain-resistant fabrics are usually treated with PFAS. If clothing or outdoor products are not labeled as PFAS-free, it is recommended to select products without these specialized additional functions, to stay away from PFAS.

Look Out for the Word “perfluor” in the List of Ingredients

Since regulations do not currently specify whether manufacturers have to state if their products contain PFAS, if the list of ingredients of cosmetics or skin care products contain the word perfluor, it means that they contain chlorine derivatives that are likely to be PFAS.

Avoid Consuming Freshwater Fish From PFAS-Contaminated Waters

Since PFAS will enter fish’s body through water and accumulate very high concentrations, if you can determine the fish’s origin avoid fish from waters that may have been contaminated by PFAS. Upstream sections of rivers with nonstick pan, raincoat, or firefighting foam manufacturers are considered high risk areas.

Avoid Using Paper Food Packaging

In order to make paper food packaging water- and oil-resistant, many manufacturers add PFAS during the manufacturing process. Furthermore, paper production consumes a large amount of water, so even if manufacturers do not intentionally add PFAS, uninspected products may still be contaminated by PFAS.

Use Nonstick Pans with Ceramic Coating

Nonstick pans are one of the earliest and most important applications of PFAS. Although the nonstick performance of ceramic coating is not as good as that of PFAS, it is still sufficient for daily cooking purposes and reduces the risk of ingesting PFAS.

Products Certified or Declared PFAS-free

The safest way is to purchase products that are certified or declared PFAS-free. Products with certification reports are preferred, and note whether the statement contains comprehensive sustainability policies and logical PFAS substitute measures to avoid being misled by manufacturers.

List of Companies with PFAS-free Products

Since consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about PFAS in products, and different countries have introduced regulatory restrictions, many manufacturers have made a commitment not to use PFAS in their products. These include diverse product categories such as clothing, personal care products, baby products, furniture, food packaging, and daily necessities:


Every day, our clothes are in close contact with our skin for many hours, thus whether they contain PFAS becomes an important issue. Apart from avoiding wearing water- and stain-resistant clothing, we should also choose clothes labelled as non-PFAS, to completely avoid coming in contact with PFAS through wearing them.

Personal Care Products and Cosmetics

Compared with clothing, personal care products are applied directly to our skin, thus many personal care products are designed for easy absorption, increasing the possibility of PFAS entering our body. Moreover, these personal care products and cosmetics end up in the sewer after we wash them off, and PFAS contained in them thereby enter the water cycle, ultimately returning to our body through drinking water or food.


We frequently come in contact with furniture including the chairs we sit or lean on, the bed we sleep in for eight hours a day, and the dining table we use when eating. Pets or children at home may chew on this furniture. PFAS often appear on the surface of furniture such as couch leather, seat cushion fabric, and tablecloths. Using non-PFAS furniture allows us to remove PFAS from our home.

Food Packaging

The dose of PFAS entering the human body is bound to be higher than that from direct skin contact. The food and water we consume already contain PFAS, hence if food packaging also contains PFAS, they may transfer to food through contact and end up in our stomach. Furthermore, since most food packaging is single use, it creates large amounts of waste, and if the packaging contains PFAS, they are likely to leak into the environment through landfill or contaminate the land through air pollution after incineration.

Daily Necessities

Besides the four above mentioned categories, some of the daily necessities we use in life also contain PFAS. Examples include fire extinguishers, oil paint, raincoats, pans, and outdoor products. PFAS are often used as surfactants or waterproofing agents. Fortunately, many manufacturers have developed substitute chemicals for PFAS, further reducing the possibility of PFAS exposure.

Non-PFAS Brand 1: Clothing

LEVI’S: The label banned all types of PFAS from its products since 2020 and formulated a Restricted Substances List (RSL) to limit chemicals used in and emitted by the manufacturing process.

Deckers Brands (UGG boots and Teva sandals): The Restricted Substance Packet discloses that its products have been tested for banned substances such as PFOA and PFOS, as well as other PFC chlorine derivatives.

Icebreaker: Icebreaker sells a diverse range of men’s and women’s apparel (mostly outdoor products). In the past, its fabrics only contained short-chain PFAS, but the brand no longer produces any fabrics containing PFC.

JackWolfskin: The brand has formulated its RSL to control chemical substances, and its clothes and backpacks sold since 2019 has been PFC-free.

INDITEX (Zara’s parent company): Published the PFAS-free manufacturing guidelines to ensure that its clothes do not contain PFAS.

Non-PFAS Brand 2: Personal Care Products

H&M: H&M has not produced products containing PFAS since the fall of 2018.

AXIOLOGY: Issued a statement in 2021 that its cosmetics have been tested to be PFAS free.

FENTY BEAUTY: FENTY BEAUTY is committed to complying with EU standards and refrains from adding PFAS in its cosmetics.
SAPPHO New Paradigm: SAPPHO New Paradigm began testing various PFAS concentrations in 2021 to ensure that all of its products pass PFAS inspection.

Non-PFAS Brand 3: Furniture

IKEA: IKEA has gradually phased out PFAS from its fabrics since 2016.

The Futon Shop: Produced using organic cotton, GOTS-certified organic wool, and FSC-certified wood, its products do not contain chemical ingredients.

PLUSHBEDS: Received GOTS and GOLS double organic certifications, and announced that all of its products are PFAS free.

Non-PFAS Brand 4: Food packaging

renouvo: renouvo is a plant fiber material company that manufactures products using natural agricultural waste such as bagasse or coffee grounds. Its straws, cups, or tableware possess natural water resistant properties, and they have been SGS-certified to be PFAS free.

Other stainless steel food packaging: Unfortunately, none of the manufacturers could provide credible non-PFAS statements in our search process. Choosing stainless steel food packaging is probably the best way to avoid PFAS.

Non-PFAS Brand 5: Daily Necessities

GreenPan: Their ceramic coated non-stick pans are free of PFAS.

DIDRIKSONS: Its raincoats utilize non-PFAS water-resistance technology.

Safelincs: A range of chlorine-free fire extinguishers.

How Can We Make the Next Step to Go PFAS-Free?

Currently, the use of PFAS is being progressively banned or limited internationally. However, since enforcing the ban policy must be supported by direct scientific evidence, many manufacturers are only willing to replace long-chain PFAS with short-chain PFAS, which may still pose threat to the environment and the human body. Even the EU, which has the most cutting-edge environmental awareness and regulations, only plans to restrict the use of PFAS by 2025. Although PFAS-free has become an international trend, before adequate policies are in place, we can avoid products containing PFAS by following the above mentioned PFAS-free purchasing principles or by buying PFAS-free brands directly, in order to minimize the rate of PFAS accumulation in our bodies.

Go PFAS-free: We Have More and Better Choices

Since its inception in the 20th century, PFAS have introduced fantastic convenience to people and become part of our modern, comfortable lifestyle. Nonetheless, they have become a ticking time bomb for the future of our environment and for people’s health. Now, many manufacturers are in search of PFAS substitute materials, so we should replace PFAS products as much as possible to ensure a safer, healthier future.