3. The Health Risks of PFAS

Fast Food Burger And Fries

The EPA states that most of us are exposed to PFAS every day, and that “exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans.” Testing of animals exposed to PFAS have resulted in the growth of tumors. The EPA warns that these and other studies “indicate that PFOA and PFOS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals.” 

PFAS exposure can also lead to increased cholesterol levels, a challenged immune system, thyroid hormone disruption (related to PFOS chemicals) and cancer linked to PFOA chemicals. 

2. How Do PFAS Get into Food from Fast Food Packaging?

Fast Food Burgers Wrapped

In an interview published by Technology Networks, Dr. Katherine C. Hyland of SCIEX explained that PFAS can leach into foods from contact with toxic food wrappers. Dr. Hyland says that “accidental consumption due to food contact” with PFAS chemicals actually exposes people to “a wider range of chemical constituents than is typically considered for environmental samples.” This is because PFAS in food wrappers — also called food contact materials (FCM) — have a wider range of chemical classes than some other PFAS exposure sources. 

In a nutshell, that means food wrapped in PFAS packaging can absorb a variety of toxic chemicals just by being in contact with the packaging itself. 

1. Efforts to Eliminate PFAS from Food Packaging

Hand Holding Fast Food Burger

In California, Berkeley and San Francisco enforce bans on PFAS in food packaging, as do the states of Maine and Washington. Beyond these initial efforts in America, Denmark’s ban on PFAS chemicals in paper and cardboard food packaging launched in July 2020.

The food wrapper testing report also indicated that some positive change is happening little by little among American fast food burger chains. Of the burger wrappers tested, only one of them showed fluorine content above the screening level that indicates the paper was treated with PFAS. This is an improvement over previous years, and a sign that some chain restaurants are taking at least small steps toward eliminating PFAS from their food packaging.

Related: 10 Poisons Consumed Daily
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