Forever Chemicals Detected in Popular Bandage Brands — Which Brands Are PFAS-Free?

A shocking 65 percent of the bandages tested had evidence of "forever chemicals," according to the report.

Lauren Wellbank - Author

Apr. 8 2024, Updated 11:53 a.m. ET

Two Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid products are displayed for sale in a store.
Source: Getty Images

When it comes to phrases that instantly send chills down our spine, PFAS, or "forever chemicals," is somewhere near the top of the list. The EPA uses the term PFAS to describe the long-lasting and man-made per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances that are used in everything from food packaging to makeup. And as we're becoming aware of some of the repercussions of using PFAS in a variety of products and processing methods, we're still discovering them in new and unexpected places.

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This can be concerning for consumers, who have learned that PFAS have been linked to a wide range of health concerns, including hormone disruption, reproductive issues, and even cancer. That all makes a report published by Mamavation in April 2024 even more worrisome, since the website discovered the presence of PFAS in products specifically designed to help us heal when we're at our most vulnerable: bandages. The investigation found the presence of forever chemicals in bandages made by various companies, including from the popular Band-Aid brand.

Little girl gets a bandage on her knee
Source: Getty Images
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An investigation has detected PFAS, aka "forever chemicals," in bandages by these brands.

The folks at the Mamavation Laboratory have discovered evidence of PFAS in several popular bandages, after having 40 bandages from 18 different brands reviewed by an EPA-certified lab. During the review, they found that 65 percent of the bandages had evidence of forever chemicals, with 26 instances of organic fluorine that exceeded 10 parts per million (ppm) in either the bandage's pad or its sticky flaps.

Organic fluorine is one of the many markers of PFAS, and the lab found the presence of this chemical ranging in amounts from 11 to 328 ppm in various bandages. According to Mamavation, the bandages listed below are the ones where levels of organic fluorine was found in amounts exceeding 100 ppm — and the list contains multiple products that are specifically marketed towards people of color:

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  • Band-Aid: OURTONE Flexible Fabric Bandages in BR45, BR55, and BR65
  • Care Science: Antibacterial Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages
  • Curad: Assorted Bandaids 4-Sided Seal
  • CVS Health: C60 and Flexible Fabric Antibacterial Bandages, C70 Flexible Fabric Sterile Bandages
  • Equate (Walmart): Flexible Fabric Bandages Antibacterial and SKIN TONE Antibacterial Bandages Flexible Fabric
  • First Honey: Manuka Bandages
  • Rite Aid: First Aid Advanced Antibacterial Fabric Adhesive Bandages
  • Solimo (Amazon Brand): Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages
  • UP & UP (Target): Flexible Fabric Bandages.
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These findings become even more concerning when you consider that bandages are often placed on areas that are being exposed to open wounds, meaning the PFAS in bandages can then leach directly into the bloodstream. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these more intense exposure methods to PFAS can increase the severity of the risks, which include:

  • Increased cholesterol
  • Changes in liver enzymes
  • Decreased birth weight
  • Hypertension and preeclampsia during pregnancy
  • Lowered immune responses
  • Kidney and testicular cancer.

There are some brands that make PFAS-free bandages.

Fortunately, the Mamavation report also named some of the bandage brands that tested negative for any presence of organic fluorine in both the absorbent pad and adhesive flaps in the team's report:

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  • 3M: Micropore Surgical/Medical Tape
  • All Terrain: Neon Kids Bandages
  • Band-Aid: Hello Kitty Assorted Adhesive Bandages
  • CVS: Sterile Manuka Honey Sports Bandages
  • FEBU: Organic Bamboo Strip Bandages
  • TRU COLOUR: Skin Tone Bandages Diversity in Healing (olive, dark brown, and brown black)
  • Trutone: Skin Tone Adhesive Bandages in Dark Brown, Brown, and Olive
  • Welly: Good Vibes Bravery Badges and Waterproof Bravery Assorted Waterproof Bandages.
Report shows PFAS in bandages
Source: Getty Images
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If you're looking for bandages that are nontoxic or more eco-friendly than the above, one of our favorite compostable, all-natural bandages are PATCH's Bamboo Bandages. A rep for PATCH confirms in an email to Green Lovers that "PATCH are PFAS-free!"

Generation for Change's Plant-Based Bandages are another compostable option; we've reached out to the brand asking if its bandages are PFAS-free, and will update this article if we hear back.

Unfortunately, as we've come to learn over the years, PFAS are present in so many of the essentials we use every day, that it's hard to avoid them completely. That being said, staying aware of which brands are making an active effort to eliminate these "forever chemicals" from their production can help lower exposure, hopefully leading to a reduced risk of negative health outcomes in the long run.

This article, originally published April 4, 2024, was updated to include a statement from PATCH about its bandages being PFAS-free.

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