How About Some PFAS with your Pizza?

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By: Sharon Franklin
Kristina Marusic, of Environmental Health News reported on October 9, 2019  about the dangerous PFAS chemicals that show up in the bodies of people who eat takeout, fast food, and pizza are often at higher levels than in people who regularly cook at home.  This is according to a new study, which is the first to link certain foods and PFAS exposures in Americans and adds to the mounting evidence that food packaging, (i.e. grease resistant boxes, pizzas and popcorn) is a major source of exposure to the toxics in people.  PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) refers to a class of more than 5,000 chemicals that are used to make everything from food packaging and cook wear to furniture, carpets and clothing grease-, stain-, and water-repellent.  They’re sometimes called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down naturally.  These chemicals can accumulate in the body and have been linked to many health issues, including cancer, thyroid disease, low birth weight and decreased fertility.
Dr. Laurel Schaider, who co-authored the study PFAS in drinking water (STEEP)  says “We all know eating more fresh foods and more home-cooked meals is good for our health for many reasons,” and “I think our study adds further evidence to support that.  She and her co-authors analyzed data collected between 2003 and 2014 from 10,106 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that tracks health and nutritional trends in the United States.  Dr. Schaider also stated that “We found that every 100 calories of food purchased at a grocery store and prepared at home instead of at a restaurant was associated with 0.3 to 0.5 percent lower levels of PFAS in our bodies”.
Dr. Schaider concluded, while eating at home was associated with lower levels of PFAS than eating out overall, eating fast food and pizza were most strongly linked with higher levels of PFAS in people.  “We know we’re exposed to PFAS from many different sources, “but our findings indicate that food consumption is an important pathway of exposure.”  Ultimately, we need better regulations to keep harmful chemicals from getting into our food and products in the first place.”
Photo Credit: Jacob Styburski/flickr

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