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PFAS are baaad...but here is good news!


News about environmental pollution is rarely good these days. The number of chemicals that mankind has made and released into the water, air, and soil are innumerable and quite a few of those have proven harmful to animal and plant life. A class of chemicals called PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are both harmful, pervasive and non-degradable. 



These chemicals are known to be harmful in some concentrations. Much more research is needed, partly due to the sheer number of these chemicals, but studies have shown impacts on reproduction, child development, cancers, and immune deficiencies. 



They are pervasive, as in all over our environment - in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and in some of the food we eat.  These chemicals have been found in human bodies all over the world.


PFAS chemicals are known as “forever chemicals” because they break down very slowly. We can’t actually know how long some of them take to break down, but some estimates range beyond 1000 years.  

There are many ways these chemicals may enter our bodies. The EPA lists several: living near or working at facilities that produce them, being exposed to fire-extinguishing foam, drinking water (in some places), food packaging, personal care products, among others. 



Fast food is often wrapped in papers that have been treated with PFAS chemicals to prevent grease from getting all over ourselves (and our clothes and cars). Microwave popcorn containers are a specific concern, since the corn kernels are in contact with the PFAS-treated paper for much longer than a burger that is wrapped and eaten within minutes. 


The FDA announced in February that companies supplying PFAS-treated food wrappers and containers have voluntarily phased out those products. There are still about 18 months of sold products that will continue to be used before consumers will see the end of those phased-out products, but what’s 18 months compared to 1000 years? Check the FDA announcements regularly to be safe when you purchase anything, especially food.


This is big and really good news!  The FDA calls these products the “primary source of dietary exposure to PFAS from authorized food contact uses.” This does not include dietary sources of PFAS from actual food (fish and dairy products), but this phase-out is a clear-cut solution to an easily identifiable source of PFAS contamination. 




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