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Is Your Dental Floss Poisoning You?

New research measuring blood samples of 178 middle-aged persons indicates that certain types of dental floss may be contributing to higher levels of certain toxins in your body. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said that previous reports on the floss in question — products designed to make the floss glide through your teeth — have highlighted their use of Teflon-like compounds.


In response, Procter & Gamble, maker of Crest and Oral-B floss, said the company had “confirmed none of the substances in the report are used in our dental floss.”

This study, which researchers admitted was based on self-reported use that needs additional data, may need some clarifying before anyone can specifically condemn dental floss for possibly poisoning you, but one thing’s for certain, and that is the chemicals in question — perfluoroalkyls or PFAS — are pervasive toxins.

According to a 2016 Harvard study, 16.5 million Americans have detectable levels of at least one kind of PFAS in their drinking water, and about 6 million Americans are drinking water that contains PFAS at or above the EPA safety level.

PFASs have been found in air, surface water, groundwater, drinking water, soil and food, and humans can be exposed via all of these sources. In studies, the highest concentration levels of PFASs were found in watersheds near industrial sites, military fire training areas and wastewater treatment plants, but private wells were also found to be contaminated.

People living near former PFAS manufacturing plants and military bases have been particularly affected by the contamination, although it's widespread across the U.S. The Department of Defense has also reported that at least 126 drinking water systems near military bases are contaminated with PFASs, due to their use in firefighting foam.

In water alone, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) set out to determine how widespread the contamination really is — and found up to 110 million Americans drinking water from more than 1,500 U.S. drinking water systems could be at risk. What this all means is that you must be your own advocate, especially when it comes to drinking water. Right now, the full extent of PFAS contamination from all sources is unknown, but there's a good chance your drinking water could be contaminated to some extent.

The existence of chemicals like PFASs, which have no taste or smell, in drinking water is the reason everyone should filter their water — but be aware that most common water filters available in supermarkets will not remove PFASs.

You really need a high-quality carbon filtration system to do that. To be certain you're getting the purest water you can, filter the water both at the point of entry and at the point of use.

This means filtering all the water that comes into the house and then filtering it again at the kitchen sink and shower. The New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute recommends using granulated activated carbon "or an equally efficient technology," which may be able to remove up to 90 percent of these chemicals.

In addition, everyone would be well served by following the Madrid Statement's recommendation to avoid products containing, or manufactured using, PFASs, which includes most products that are stain-resistant, waterproof or nonstick — and, possibly, dental floss.

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