PFAS-Free First Aid Kit

When a recent report indicated that some popular bandage brands may come with some bonus forever chemicals, I was inspired to put together a PFAS-Free First Aid Kit for my family. I’m on an ongoing mission to reduce cancer-causing PFAS and the hormone-altering phthalates that my family and especially kids will contact. With young kids around, a first-aid kit definitely gets a lot of use. This is a great low-hanging-fruit upgrade.

What are PFAS, forever chemicals, and phthalates?

Here’s a brief overview.

PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances): PFAS are a large group of manufactured chemicals that include substances like PFOA, PFOS, and GenX. These chemicals are primarily used for their water and grease resistance properties in products such as non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, and some firefighting foams. Known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS are resistant to degradation in the environment and have been linked to a variety of health risks, including cancer, hormone disruption, and immune system effects.

Forever Chemicals: This term generally refers to chemicals that do not break down in the environment and thus persist for a very long time. While often used to describe PFAS, the term can apply to any substance with similar persistence. The environmental and health concerns associated with forever chemicals stem from their ability to accumulate in the environment and the human body, leading to long-term exposure and potential health impacts.

Phthalates: Phthalates are a group of chemicals used as plasticizers to make plastics like PVC more flexible and harder to break. Commonly found in a wide range of products including toys, vinyl flooring, and personal care products like shampoos and soaps, phthalates are known to interfere with hormone function, particularly affecting reproductive health. They can leach into food or beverages from containers and are considered endocrine disruptors, posing risks to human health, particularly in vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and children. Phthalates are everywhere in our environment today, and avoiding them entirely is impossible. We do the best we can.


You don’t want to touch, wear, or eat them.

Which bandages contain PFAS?

According to the report , all these bandages had organic fluorine detected, which is an indicator of PFAS:

Which bandages were PFAS-free?

The report lists the following bandages as having no detections of organic fluorine in both their absorbent pads and adhesive flaps:

Okay, but you need more than bandaids in a first aid kit…

Finding PFAS-free first-aid supplies may be harder than you’d think – not the least of which, the box itself!

PFAS-free, phthalate-free first-aid box

The great majority of first aid boxes available for purchase are either plastic (which contains phthalates to make the resin pliable), or powder-coated steel ( powder coating can contain PFAS (PDF) ).

Some PFAS-free and phthalate-free containerization options use materials like cotton, unpainted steel, or wood. Glass is also a possible choice, although perhaps not the best for a box that might be moved in a hurry by someone with an injury.

For my family’s first-aid kit, I had the idea of using a stainless steel bento box for toxin-free organization!

Stainless steel bento box

Alternatively, you could also organize supplies into cotton zip pouches and indicate the contents of each with iron-on patches .

First aid kit layout with cotton pouch

PFAS-free first-aid kit contents

Here are the contents of my family’s first-aid kit, without any supplies known to have PFAS:

Creating a PFAS-free first aid kit is a proactive approach to reducing toxic exposure that helps me safeguard the health of my family. As more consumers become aware of the health implications associated with forever chemicals like PFAS and phthalates, I hope the demand for safer, non-toxic products will lead to broader industry changes – until then, it’s up to us to be vigilant and informed.

By choosing PFAS-free bandages and assembling a first-aid kit with carefully selected, safe materials, you can make things a little better in a world where these chemicals are pervasive.

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