Toxic Forever Chemical PFAS Leaching into Food, FDA Confirms

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently released the findings of its own study of the presence of toxic industrial chemical PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalykyl substances) in food and found that PFAS chemicals, as numerous independent university and research institute studies have reported, are leaching into the U.S. food supply:

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Toxic chemical PFAS in the food and water supply

The levels in nearly half of the meat and fish the FDA tested were double or more the only currently existing federal advisory level for any kind of the widely used manmade PFAS compounds.

The level in packaged chocolate cake was higher: more than 250 times the only federal guidelines, which are for some PFAS in drinking water.

PFOS, an older form of PFAS no longer made in the U.S. but still present in food, water and the environment, turned up at levels ranging from 134 parts per trillion to 865 parts per trillion in tilapia, chicken, turkey, beef, cod, salmon, shrimp, lamb, catfish and hot dogs. Prepared chocolate cake tested at 17,640 parts per trillion of a kind of PFAS called PFPeA.

The FDA presentation also included what appeared to be previously unreported findings of PFAS levels — one spiking over 1,000 parts per trillion — in leafy green vegetables grown within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of an unspecified eastern U.S. PFAS plant and sold at a farmer’s market.

It also previewed test levels for a previously reported instance of PFAS contamination of the food supply, in the feed and milk at a dairy near an Air Force base in New Mexico.

The FDA said the contamination in that milk was a health concern. It said it would release detailed data on that soon.

What are the health consequences of PFAS chemicasl in the human body?

PFAS has been dubbed a ‘forever chemical’ because it accumulates in the human body and is predicted to take thousands of years to degrade. PFAS chemicals (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are toxic to humans, animals and the environment. They are comprised of approximately 12,000 compounds. The federal toxicology review last year concluded the compounds are more dangerous than previously thought, saying consistent studies of exposed people suggest associations with some kinds of cancers (including breast and prostate cancers), liver problems, low birth weight and numerous other health problems including thyroid problems, kidney problems, prostate problems and fertility problems. PFAS chemicals have been linked in scientific and medical studies to a variety of serious health conditions including cancer (including testicular cancers), kidney disease, heart disease, thyroid problems, reproductive problems, endocrine problems (PFAS has been found to disrupt hormonal functions with some research suggesting that the PFAS chemicals are linked to accelerated ovarian aging, period irregularities and ovarian disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome) and liver problems. Some newer PFAS have been found to accumulate in organs, so in some cases, science simply cannot detect the toxic chemicals when testing for it in blood.

Where is the chemical compound used?

PFAS is an industrial chemical created by DuPont in 1938 and used for a variety of consumer products including nonstick cookware, and from 3M, stain-proofing products like ScothGard.  It now exists in an estimated 5,000 varieties. Industries use the product to keep grease, water and stains off countless consumer items, including in food packaging, carpets and couches, clothing, personal care items, including dental floss, and outdoor gear.

PFAS chemicals are ubiquitous in the U.S., appearing in thousands of consumer and industrial products and are typically used to make products resist water, stains and heat, including household products (like carpeting, curtains, furniture upholstery, waterproof and stain-resistant flooring, etc.), cooking supplies (including cooking utensils and bake ware), clothing, personal care products (like cosmetics, including waterproof mascara) and even food (PFAS appears in processed food packaging for humans and pets) and public drinking water (tap water) that affects an estimated 2 million Americans. PFAS chemicals are usually found in products labeled “stain-proof” and “waterproof”.  PFAS chemicals also appear in fire-fighting foam and other industrial products used at airports and military bases across the country, where the chemicals have leached into the groundwater.

Other points of interest

-The FDA in 2015 and 2016 revoked approval for some older versions of PFAS in food packaging, although it was one of those versions that was found in high levels in its testing of meat and seafood.

-In its statement, the FDA noted studies suggesting newer forms of the chemical may also pose a health risk.  (See our report of scientific findings on this here.) It said it was working with other federal agencies to determine appropriate next steps.

See other CFL posts on PFAS (PFOS/PFOA) scientific findings:

Researchers Discover High Levels of Toxic Industrial Chemical in U.S. Drinking Water

Compostable food containers could release PFAS into environment

Big Chemical Sued (again) Over Toxic Food Packaging Chemicals

Kids Carry Toxic Chemicals in Their Bodies from Vinyl Flooring, Furniture

Toxic Forever-Chemical in Your Drinking Water: Status Update

Toxic Industrial Chemicals Pass to Fetus Throughout Pregnancy: Scientists

Toxic Chemical Discovered in Dental Floss

Life-Altering Toxic Chemicals: A Brief History

Safer Chemical on Non-Stick Cookware Actually Quite Dangerous, says EPA

Increased weight gain linked with common chemicals

Chemicals of Concern in One-Third of Fast Food Packaging: New Study

Source: AP