PEOPLE who wear contact lenses are at increased risk of cancer, experts have warned.
US scientists found so-called 'forever chemicals' are lurking on all brands of contact lenses.
Previous studies suggest polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a family of about 10,000 chemicals, increase the risk of liver, kidney and testicular cancer as well as thyroid disease.
The toxic substances are found in drinking water and many everyday products such as non-stick pans, food packaging, carpets and furniture.
The study detected concerning high levels of PFAS in 18 popular brands of contact lenses, including Acuvue, Alcon, and Coopervision.
PFAS are also linked with increased cholesterol, reproductive and developmental problems and other health harms.
The Government doesn't monitor levels of the chemicals in products, but does track levels found in drinking water.
Guidelines from the Drinking Water Inspectorate, which covers England and Wales, state drinking water must contain PFAS chemicals at no more than 100 nanograms per litre (ng/l).
Laboratory analysis of the popular contact lenses found that all exceeded the the 100ng/l level.
Traces of organic fluorine, a marker for PFAS in the lenses, ranged from 105000 ng/l to 20700000 ng/l – which is up to and over 200,000 times higher than the safe limit for water.
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Dr Linda S Birnbaum a toxicologist and former director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, US, said: “Your eyes are one of the most sensitive parts of your body.
"Therefore, it’s concerning to see the presence of organic fluorine, which is likely a type of PFAS, found in all soft contact lens products tested."
Professor Terrence Collins, a chemist at Carnegie Mellon University, New Zealand, said that many manufacturers use PFAS as they are cheap and effective materials.
However, he is frustrated by the lack of product testing.
"No one today can tell you that PFAS exposures are safe because no jurisdiction has been demanding the development and scrutiny of appropriate safety testing," Terrence said.
"I advise that such contact lenses be rigorously avoided."
At this point, however, asking the average person to avoid PFAS is near impossible, especially when so few alternatives exist.
It was previously found that PFAS are contained in the wrappers of popular fast-food chains.
A study published in October last year also found the substances in 80 per cent of McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Domino’s meals.
The paper was based on samples from restaurants in San Antonio, US, found small amounts of phthalates.
These chemicals are used to make plastics soft and were found in 80 per cent of the samples collected.
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The chemical is linked to a range of health problems including issues in the endocrine system which is a series of glands that produces and secretes hormones in the body, a previous study found.
Phthalates are also linked to fertility and reproductive issues, with one 2020 study having found that the chemical may 'induce alterations in puberty, the development of testicular dysgenesis syndrome, cancer, and fertility disorders in both males and females'.
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