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In search of safe replacements for harmful chemicals used in cookware, carpets, clothing, cosmetics and more

After ditching two notoriously toxic compounds, manufacturers subbed in other versions of their chemical class. But are they any better?

© iStockphoto.com | woottigon | ia_64
A 1968 scientific journal article reporting two types of fluoride in human blood was among the first clues that PFASs were contaminating humans. Courtesy of Nature Scientific Journal
Molecular structures of PFOA, PFOS and the short-chain GenX PFAS. Sean Quinn

Many scientists worry that companies are replacing one set of bad actors with another.

In a study reported last year, researchers found PFASs in one-third of food wrappers they sampled. © iStockphoto.com | victorass88
GenX, a short-chain PFAS, was found in numerous places along the Cape Fear River in North Carolina despite industry commitment to contain environmental emissions. Courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality

Industry representatives point to the wide diversity of PFASs on the market as a reason not to condemn the whole class.

Arlene Blum. Photo courtesy of Donovan Watts
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Ensia

Ensia is a solutions-focused nonprofit media outlet reporting on our changing planet.