‘Forever chemicals’ can be absorbed through skin — study

By Nicole Norman | 06/28/2024 04:18 PM EDT

The first-of-its-kind study determined skin “could be a significant source of exposure.”

A person applies ointment to their hand.

Research shows that PFAS can be absorbed through skin, raising new concerns about "forever chemicals" in beauty and other products. Christian Hume/Unsplash

A new study has found “forever chemicals” can infiltrate the bloodstream through the skin, raising new questions about the potential health risks of PFAS-laden beauty products, makeup or other items.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environment International, said per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances absorbed through skin “could be a significant source of exposure.”

“The real gap that we don’t have is how much might be absorbed through the skin. Now the reason that that could potentially be important is because PFAS products are used in lots of applications,” Stuart Harrad, co-author of the study and professor of environmental chemistry at the University of Binghampton, told POLITICO’s E&E News.


Studies on PFAS dermal absorption are few and limited, including one that found PFAS could be absorbed through rat skin. But the new study is the first time researchers tested how a wide range of PFAS in liquid can be absorbed by a material equivalent to human skin.