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Friday, April 19, 2024

PFAS. Dangerous “forever chemicals” in food packaging. “It's like asbestos”

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Healthy food is one thing, food packaging is another and equally important. The latest research reminds us of this. It turns out that toxins also hide in cardboard containers, and these toxins are PFAS, i.e. “forever chemicals”.

Takeaway food is now our everyday life. We have never ordered so much and so often before. And in the package – according to the latest research – we often also get perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl. In short, PFAS, i.e. the so-called eternal chemicals. – They stay in the environment. So when we introduce them into the environment, they do not decompose at the rate we would like, they just remain and accumulation occurs – explains Professor Włodzimierz Urbaniak from the Faculty of Chemistry of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. This accumulation occurs in the environment and in our bodies. And this is where the bad news begins, because scientists have proven that these synthetic chemicals are dangerous to our health.

– They negatively affect what is in our cells. It damages them, and thus causes our cells to stop dividing, for example, or to divide with certain errors – explains Dr. Jakub Duszczyk, a chemist and toxicologist.

And this, in turn, can lead to many diseases, which has already been confirmed by scientists. – May cause liver function disorders. This may lead to an increase in cholesterol and intensification of atherosclerosis. We talk about thyroid diseases, we talk about kidney cancer – says Dr. Eryk Matuszkiewicz, toxicologist.

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Several thousand chemicals more than expected

Another very important topic is fertility. – These compounds may affect both the male and female reproductive systems, including by reducing the quality of sperm or reducing the number of oocytes, and thus affect reproductive success – says Dr. Karol Mierzejewski from the Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology of the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn.

And what's most terrifying – we know that these substances cross the placenta. – These substances may have a delayed effect, which means that these diseases may appear after a dozen or so years – says Dr. Duszczyk. – It's like with asbestos. Asbestos was an excellent material. Only when it started to accumulate in the body did the body start to react to it – adds Prof. Urbaniak.

As many as 68 PFAS substances have been detected in food containers – according to an article published in the journal “Environmental Science & Technology”. The article is a summary of 47 scientific studies.

Moreover, a team of European scientists recently discovered that plastic products – from food packaging to toys to medical devices – contain several thousand more chemicals than previously thought. – According to the latest research, there are about 16,000 of these compounds, the producers of which do not declare their composition – says Dr. Mierzejewski. And this is the biggest problem.

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Many experts believe that some of these substances should be banned or limited in products that come into contact with food. – Specific limits and permissible limits of substances should be established – says Dr. Duszczyk.

The European Chemicals Agency has already warned against certain compounds. But there are no bans yet.

Main photo source: TVN24

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