Does Chemex Natural Coffee Filters contain indications of PFAS “forever chemicals?” This is the question Mamavation was attempting to answer when we sent Chemex Natural Coffee Filters off to an EPA-certified lab looking for indications of PFAS “forever chemicals.” You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like safest green beauty makeup sans PFAS “forever chemicals,” safest cookware sans PFAS, safest parchment paper sans PFAS, and best water purification systems to filter PFAS, now join us for the results from our lab about Chemex natural coffee filters.
Disclosure: This post was medically reviewed by Sondra Strand, RN, BSN, PHN. This post also contains affiliate links.
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Health Effects Linked to Exposure to PFAS “Forever Chemicals”
PFAS “forever chemicals” are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances used as stain-resistant, water-resistant, & oil-resistant chemicals in commerce. They have been used for decades inside consumer products, manufacturing, and building materials. There are over 12,000 different chemicals in the PFAS chemical class (including PFOA & PTFE), and because there are so many of them, they are incredibly hard to identify and test for.
PFAS “forever chemicals” are problematic to human health and the environment. They are considered persistent, ubiquitous, and toxic, and therefore, it’s important you avoid them as much as you can to keep them from building up in our bodies. Many compounds can last for years in our bodies, therefore, it’s imperative to reduce the amount of PFAS you are exposed to from contaminated food and water.
Here’s a list of health effects PFAS chemicals are linked to presently according to our scientific advisor and Former Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program, Linda Birnbaum:
- reduction in immunity
- reduced vaccination response
- increased risk of allergies & asthma in young children
- affect the growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children
- increase cholesterol levels
- metabolic diseases like obesity & diabetes
- cardiovascular disease
- lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant
- lowers male fertility
- increase the risk of kidney & testicular cancers
- Causes endocrine disruption
- Disrupts normal thyroid function
Mamavation Finds Traces of PFAS “Forever Chemicals” In Other Products
PFAS, otherwise known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (aka PFCs or perfluorinated chemicals, including PFOA and PFOS) are added to many products we purchase to make them “stain-resistant,” “grease-proof,” and “water-resistant.”
As we are writing this, Mamavation has also released 21 consumer studies looking for indications of PFAS “forever chemicals” inside everyday items and the food we bring into our homes. In these studies, we have learned quite a bit about where PFAS chemicals hide in everyday products. Learn more about our other PFAS consumer studies here:
- Nut Butters
- Pasta & Tomato Sauce
- Cooking Oils
- Butter Wrappers
- Sports Bras
- Green Beauty Makeup
- Period Underwear
- Parchment Paper
- Cupcake Liners
- Plastic-Free Straws
- Bamboo Flooring
- Toilet Paper
- Sanitary Pads & Incontinence Pads
- Dental Floss
- Baby Strollers
- Children’s Probiotics
- Kids’ Backpacks
Other Known Industries Using PFAS “Forever Chemicals”
PFAS chemicals have been used for decades to create stain resistance, water resistance, and grease-proof qualities in products to which they are added. If you’ve heard of coatings such as “Teflon” on cookware, fabrics made from “Gore-Tex” or treatments on carpets like STAINMASTER®, you’ve already heard about PFAS chemicals. Here’s more of what you may not have been aware of:
- Textiles & Fabrics: PFAS chemicals are very commonly found in industries such as textiles & fabrics to create stain-resistance, water-resistance, or “sweat-wicking.” To help you here, Mamavation has tested athletic wear, sports bras, and period underwear. We’ve also conducted other consumer studies on bedding, children’s clothing, infant car seats, jackets, & raincoats.
- Food Packaging: In food packaging, they are used in popcorn bags, pizza boxes, fast food wrappers & canisters, and the flat dish on the bottom of cakes at the grocery store. Mamavation has also tested different butter wrappers, parchment paper brands, plastic-free straws, and cupcake liners for indications of PFAS.
- Personal Care Products: The beauty industry has been notoriously guilty of using PFAS to create a waterproof or long-lasting effect in makeup products. So Mamavation tested the most popular green beauty makeup brands, and we have also found some issues with period underwear, tampons, and sanitary pads. We also found quite a bit of detection in dental floss.
- Toilet Paper: Mamavation found indications of PFAS in 24% of the toilet paper we sent to the lab. However, we also found plenty of ‘best” and “better” brands. Go take a look!
- Cookware: Most “non-stick” cookware is coated with PFAS chemicals, including some stainless steel cookware, and small kitchen appliances like air fryers. Check out Mamavation’s investigation on cookware.
- Carpeting & Flooring: PFAS has also been used in carpeting & flooring. Do you remember StainMaster™ carpet? That was PFAS. However, not all carpet has indications of PFAS. We recently tested one brand you can safely purchase. Mamavation also tested several bamboo flooring brands and found one brand that was free from PFAS.
- Furniture: Watch out for “stain-resistant” treatments on furniture. We have not done any testing in this category yet.
- Fire Fighting Foam: PFAS was used in firefighting foams and they have unfortunately been used extensively around military bases and airports. If you live close to a military base or airport, check with your local water district to see if they have tested the water for PFAS.
- Metal Plating, Semiconductors, Lubrications, & Coating Additives: Lots of industrial applications of PFAS are used to keep equipment from rusting, getting overheated, or provide water-resistant, or grease-resistant qualities.
- Drinking Water: Sadly, there are lots of places around the United States and all over the world that have drinking water contaminated with PFAS. Most of these areas are by military bases, airports, and other industrial parks that used PFAS for firefighting or other such uses. Luckily, Mamavation has done an investigation of the best water filters to remove PFAS.
- Car Wax, Ski Wax, & Surfboard Wax: Yes, you guessed it. PFAS is used here for its grease & water-resistant qualities.
- Some Processed Food: Mamavation has found indications of PFAS inside pasta & tomato sauces, nut butters, cooking oils, and ketchup. We are presently working on other food categories right now.
Indications of PFAS “Forever Chemicals” Lab Results for Chemex Natural Coffee Filters
Mamavation sent Chemex Naural Coffee Filters purchased on Amazon off to an EPA-certified lab looking for indications of PFAS “forever chemicals.” The specific lab method used by Mamavation tested for total fluorine by using the Determination of Total Fluorine by Oxygen Flask Combustion and Ion-Selective Electrode. If detectable total fluorine was observed at a detection level of 10ppm, the lab did the Determination of free Fluoride Ion in the tablet by Ion-Selective Electrode and then subtracted that from the Total Fluorine to determine the amount of organic fluorine.
Organic fluorine testing is marker testing. There are over 12,000 different PFAS chemicals in commerce and it’s impossible to identify all of them. In fact, it’s only possible to identify about 100 or so in a really good commercial lab. Therefore, we do marker testing instead looking for the element they all have in common–organic fluorine. What else could organic fluorine possibly contain other than PFAS? Nothing you want to touch. The other main possibilities are other fluoropolymers, pharmaceuticals, and common hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants, such as 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane (commonly known as R-134a) and 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene (commonly known as HFO-1234yf).
Results from Our EPA-Certified Laboratory
- Chemex Natural Coffee Filters — 32 parts per million (ppm) organic fluorine
What does this mean? This means our lab detected trace amounts of organic fluorine within Chemex Natural Coffee Filters. Organic fluorine is indicative of PFAS “forever chemicals,” therefore we do not recommend using these coffee filters.
Better Option for Filtering with Your Chemex
We still recommend you use the Chemex Pour Over Glass Coffee Maker, but instead of purchasing Chemex Natural Coffee Filters, we recommend this reusable product instead made from stainless steel: