How to Lounge in PFAS-Free Bras While Your Partner Puts Kids in Less-Toxic Clothes, Car Seats, Strollers

Yes, you really can have it all and change companies and laws

By Jessian Choy

June 27, 2022


Photo by iStock/Tramino

This month the US EPA announced a new health advisory warning the public of the extreme danger to human health from PFAS, a toxic class of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The advisory suggested that there is virtually no safe level of exposure in drinking water (the EPA changed the recommended dose for one form of PFAS, PFOA, to just four parts per quadrillion). But what about the clothes we wear, the furniture we buy, and the car seats and strollers we use for children? Turns out many of these products are contaminated too.

In 2019, I first wrote about PFAS in paper-based food contact materials (wraps and liners, pizza boxes, pastry bags, laminated cake boards, and microwave popcorn bags). Then in 2020, I discovered through an independent lab test that the toxic chemicals were in a brand of menstrual underwear I used. Last month, I reported that many foods labeled “organic” are contaminated with the toxic chemicals including ketchup and pasta sauce; even everything from drugs to food packaging were shown to be exposed. 

As more studies are being done, we’re learning that the chemicals are everywhere: in products resistant to liquid, grease, and stains; in toothpaste, anti-fogging sprays for glasses, contact lenses, eye drops, automotive products, and cleaners; in printing inks, car wash, piano keys, tennis rackets, golf gloves, climbing ropes, guitar strings, and artificial turf; even in common medicine, cell phone screens, food packaging, and skincare. They’re in almost all hard surfaces in buildings, building supplies (adhesives, caulks, sealants, flooring, lightbulbs, paint), cookware, yoga pants—and they’re still in menstrual underwear.

Now they’ve been detected in bras, bedding, kids’ clothes, furniture, face masks, rugs, car seats, and strollers. 

In one study, researchers discovered that PFAS found in baby car seats can migrate from fabric to sweat. Another study found that skin exposure to PFOA is tantamount to oral exposure, while yet another found that dermal exposure to another PFAS (PFBA) had detrimental effects to the body, such as on the liver. In the journal Environmental Science and Technology, researchers for Silent Spring reported PFAS in products such as those labeled “green” or “nontoxic”: bedding, clothes, face masks, furniture (upholstered), and menstrual underwear, including brands like Columbia, Gap, Lands’ End, Old Navy, REI, Sealy, Sunbrella outdoor furniture fabric, and Thinx menstrual underwear (again!). 

According to an equally depressing study conducted by Mamavation, 65 percent, or 23, of popular brands of bras showed indications of PFAS on the fabric next to their nipples. Breathable mesh fabric next to nipples and synthetic fabrics like polyester or rayon were more likely to be found with indications of PFAS. Polyester and rayon are more likely to chafe your skin. 

Exposure to PFAS has been linked to reduced vaccination response, obesity and diabetes, increased risk of auto-immune diseases, increased risk of kidney and testicular cancers, chance of miscarriage, cardiovascular disease, and risk of allergies and asthma. PFAS exposure may even increase the likelihood of COVID-19 infection (and more serious symptoms). 

PFAS are migrating from products into drinking water; typical water purifiers do not remove them. The US federal government has no drinking water regulation for PFAS, and only some states have regulations for some of the 12,000 PFAS in drinking water.

Toxic car seat, booster, and stroller brands

I hope you’re sitting down in a chair with no PFAS and flame retardants (FRs) for this. According to Ecology Center’s new report, Toxic Inequities, an outdated US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) federal flammability standard is unnecessarily exposing kids to toxic FRs. Because of NHTSA, nearly all children’s car seats are treated with hazardous FRs. FRs do little, if anything, to slow or prevent fire. Many also contain PFAS that can migrate into our air, dust, and our bodies, and can lead to cancer, and reproductive harm.

Ecology Center found FRs in car seats in 2018. Now in 2022, it discovered that companies often switched from well-known toxic FRs to lesser-known chemicals based on phosphorus. And it found there are no infant or convertible car seats sold in the United States for less than $120 that are both FR- and PFAS-free. Graco, Evenflo, and Baby Trend sell some of the most affordable car seats for those with tight budgets, but they also had FRs and PFAS and do not offer any FR-free seats. (See Ecology Center’s list of car seats, boosters and strollers to avoid). Mamavation also just found high-end strollers with PFAS (Babyzen, Bugaboo Bee, Joolz, Uppababy NOA). 

What is a consumer to do? 

Fortunately there is more information available on these dangerous chemicals and the products that contain them than ever before. 

Bedding, clothes, face masks, fabric on furniture, rugs, menstrual underwear with PFAS

Silent Spring found that the products below had known indications of PFAS, ranging from 10 to 3,660 ppm (the highest levels were found in an Old Navy girls school uniform shirt). Twenty-eight of 54 products had indications of PFAS above 100 ppm and 13 products had indications of PFAS above 1,000 ppm.

Baby clothes

  • Gap baby jeggings
  • Snug Bub baby onesie  


  • Twin mattress protectors
  •  Bed Guardian
  •  eLuxurySupply 
  •  Linenspa
  •  MP2 
  •  Room Essentials 
  •  Sealy
  •  Sleep Philosophy 

Twin sheets

  • Lux Decor Collection
  • Madison Park
  • Pillowfort
  • Where the Polka Dots Roam

Face masks

  • Biaoyun
  • Cat and Jack 
  • EnerPlex 
  • Lanier Wellness 

Fabric on furnishings, such as furniture (upholstery by the yard) 

  • Crypton 
  • Delta Children chair  
  • Fortress Indoor/Outdoor 
  • Fortress Clear 
  • HomePop Kids child's chair 
  • Inside Out 
  • P Kaufman 
  • Pottery Barn Sunbrella slipcover sample for child's chair 
  • Sunbrella 
  • Zoomies kids chair

Kid’s bedding 

  • Crib mattress protector 
  • First Protector 
  • Little One's pack'n'play crib mattress sheet
  • Lofe 
  • Sealy

Pillow protector 

  • A1 Home Collections
  • Bed Guardian 
  • Levinsohn 
  • Lotus Home 
  • Made by Design 
  • Protect-A-Bed 
  • Sleep Philosophy 

Kid’s clothes

  • Children's Place pants 
  • Columbia kids pants 
  • George Boys boys school uniform twill pants 
  • Hiverst bibs
  • Lands’ End boys school uniform pants, girls dress shirt, toddler school uniform mesh polo  
  • Old Navy girls school uniform shirt 
  • REI girls shorts 

Kid’s rugs

  • Koeckritz Rugs
  • Kroma 
  • RTR Kids Rugs 
  • Zoomie's Kids 

Menstrual underwear

  • Bambody
  • innersy 
  • Intimate Portal 
  • Thinx

Bras with PFAS:

Mamavation tested these bras:

  • Adidas Women’s Don’t Rest Alphaskin Bra — 57 ppm
  • Athleta Warrior Longline Twist Sports Bra — 35 ppm
  • Champion Women’s Freedom Seamless Racerback Sports Bra — 48 ppm
  • Enell Sports High Impact Bra — 28 ppm
  • Fabletics Harlyn Midi Medium-Impact Sports Bra — 23 ppm
  • Knix Catalyst Front Zip Sports Bra — 13 ppm
  • LIVI (Lane Bryant) No Wire Wicking Sports Bra — 28 ppm
  • Nike Women’s Medium Support Non-Padded Sports Bra — 38 ppm
  • SheFit Sports Bra — 48 ppm
  • Sweaty Betty Sports Bra — 11 ppm
  • Third Love Muse Sports Bra — 58 ppm
  • Torrid Black Racerback Wicking Sports Bra — 37 ppm
  • UnderArmour Sports Bra — 24 ppm
  • Zyia Active Black Bomber Bra — 27 ppm

Where to safely dispose PFAS products? Nowhere!

Recycling PFAS products can simply redistribute the toxic chemicals into other products. Putting them in bins where waste will get incinerated can cause PFAS to get into our air. Also, waste-to-energy municipal waste incinerators don’t seem to destroy PFAS. Landfilling them can release PFAS into our water. 

Safer products

I could tell you about companies that claim to be PFAS-free. But to be safe, I’m only suggesting products that are lab-tested to be free of PFAS and other toxic chemicals, such as GreenScreen Certified furniture and fabric and other products. They’ll add more products soon. If you see products claiming to be PFAS-free that aren’t GreenScreen Certified, read on at the bottom of this article for more criteria.

Organic cotton bras tested to have no indications of PFAS 

Mamavation tested these brands:

Organic kids clothes with no indications of PFAS 

Mamavation tested these brands: 

Car seats and boosters without toxic PFAS and FRs

These are the cheapest ones I could find in Ecology Center’s report that have no PFAS and FRs in the upholstery (fabric and foam):

Strollers without toxic PFAS and FRs

But keep in mind: Those strollers still have toxic chlorine, and car seats that come with them have toxic flame retardants. But they’re the safest ones I could find in the report. “We expect at least some car seat makers will stop using PFAS treatments in 2023 due to the recent California law about juvenile products," Gillian Zaharias Miller, PhD, a senior scientist at Ecology Center, told me.

If you’re looking for high-end strollers, Mamavation didn’t detect PFAS in the ones below, and they didn’t detect PFAS. The brands below also claim to avoid chemical FRs.

Now to really have it all, change manufacturers and laws.

The Ecology Center has a petition to ask the US NHTSA to let manufacturers make car seats without toxic flame retardants. They suggest that people ask manufacturers to stop using PFAS in everyday products; use a third-party assessment like GreenScreen from Clean Production Action to check if an alternative chemical stain-repellant is a safer substitute, or use GreenScreen Certified textile chemicals; get GreenScreen Certified; make textiles (such as seat covers) removable and washable to avoid the need for PFAS stain repellents. 

Ask me how to lounge in less-toxic and vegan everything: clothes, shoes, carpet, rugs, furniture, glasses with safer anti-fogging sprays while doing home improvement with safer sealers. See, you really can have it all!