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PFAS Found in Bandages from Several Popular Brands

A study of 40 bandages from major brands has found that about two-thirds include markers of PFAS “forever chemicals.”

About two-thirds of 40 bandages tested by Mamavation included a marker of PFAS, with 17 containing over 100 parts per million of the PFAS marker.
About two-thirds of 40 bandages tested by Mamavation included a marker of PFAS, with 17 containing over 100 parts per million of the PFAS marker.
Photovideostock via Getty Images

Several major bandage brands are adding insult to injury by including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their products.

That’s according to a report from The Guardian, citing new research conducted by parent buyer’s guide site Mamavation’s EPA-certified laboratory. Mamavation tested 40 types of bandages from major brands including Band-Aid, CVS Health, Walmart’s Equate brand, and more, and found that 26 contained over 10 ppm of organic fluorine, a marker for PFAS.

PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” are a group of thousands of chemicals used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s, which can build up in humans, animals, and the environment, according to the EPA. The chemicals are linked to several negative health effects including decreased fertility, developmental effects in children, and increased risk of some cancers.

“[PFAS] can directly enter the body from the bandage, and it doesn’t make sense for these companies to use it,” Linda Birnbaum, a former EPA official, tells The Guardian. 

With about one-third of the bandages testing PFAS-free, Birnbaum notes that the substances aren’t necessary for the bandages’ effectiveness. “PFAS are everywhere and unless we stop using them unnecessarily, they are just going to continue building up in the environment and our bodies,” she tells the Guardian.

Finding PFAS in bandages across several brands

Mamavation’s study included bandages purchased and donated by community members between November 2022 and February 2024 from various popular retailers, the study says.

Researchers found indicators of PFAS both on the bandages’ adhesive-coated flaps and absorbent pads.

Of the 40 different bandages tested, 17 brought results of over 100 ppm organic fluorine in either the absorbent pad or adhesive flaps. That included four products from Band-Aid, four from Equate, and three from CVS Health, along with others from Curad, Care Science, Rite Aid, and more. 

The product with the highest concentration of PFAS was the Band-Aid OURTONE Flexible Fabric BR65 Bandages, which included 260 ppm organic fluorine on the absorbent pads, and 374 ppm on the sticky flaps. Mamavation tested a second example of this product and found 169 ppm on the absorbent pad in that test.

The brand with the next highest concentration was Target’s Up & Up brand, with its Flexible Fabric Bandages including 256 ppm organic fluorine on the absorbent pad and 253 ppm on the sticky flaps.

Nine bandages of the 40 contained PFAS at levels between 10 and 100 ppm. Products with PFAS concentrations at this level included three examples from CVS Health, two from Dry See, and one each from Band-Aid, Browndages, Dealmed, and Rite Aid.

In Mamavation’s list of bandages that went under the detection limit of 10 ppm organic fluorine were 14 bandage products, from brands including Band-Aid, CVS, 3M, TRU COLOUR, Welly, and more.

“It is discouraging to find yet another important product space, band aids or bandages, containing PFAS compounds where transfers into users are conceivable,” Terrence Collins, Teresa Heinz professor of green chemistry and director of the Institute for Green Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, says to Mamavation in the study. 

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