Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

PFAS Chemicals Contaminate U.S. Food Supply, FDA Confirms

Popular
PFAS Chemicals Contaminate U.S. Food Supply, FDA Confirms
Sirintra_Pumsopa / iStock / Getty Images

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found per- and polyfluoroalykyl substances, or PFAS, in foods including grocery store meat, fish and chocolate cake, The Associated Press reported Monday.


The findings were first obtained by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and published by the Environmental Working Group, then confirmed by the FDA Monday, CNN reported.

The FDA tests found PFAS in chocolate cake at levels more than 250 times the only federal safety guidelines that exist, for some types of PFAS in drinking water, according to The Associated Press.

"What this calls for is additional research to determine how widespread this contamination is and how high the levels are," Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Linda Birnbaum told The Associated Press. "We have to look at total human exposure — not just what's in the water or what's in the food ... or not just dust. We need to look at the sum totals of what the exposures are."

CNN explained why PFAS contamination is so concerning:

PFAS is a family of nearly 5,000 synthetic chemicals that are extremely persistent in the environment and in our bodies. PFAS is short for perfluoroalky and polyfluoroalkyl substances and includes chemicals known as PFOS, PFOA and GenX, sometimes called forever chemicals. These chemicals all share signature elemental bonds of fluorine and carbon, which are extremely strong and difficult to break down in the environment or in our bodies.

These chemicals can easily migrate into the air, dust, food, soil and water and can accumulate in the body. They've been linked to adverse health impacts including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression and cancer.

They were invented by DuPont in 1938, initially for non-stick cookware. But they are now used by a variety of industries to repel grease and water in items from packaging to carpets to outdoor gear, and they are also an important ingredient in firefighting foam, which is often used by the Defense Department to fight jet fires, The Associated Press reported.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gives the safe level for certain PFAS in drinking water at 70 parts per trillion (ppt).

The FDA's most recent PFAS findings were presented at the 29th annual European meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Helsinki, Finland last month, and photos of the presentation were obtained by EDF, according to CNN. The findings contained three related investigations into PFAS in food, as EDF summarized:

1. The FDA found most of 16 PFAS tested for in food sold at a farmer's market downstream of a PFAS facility. One produce sample contained 1,200 ppt.

2. In an investigation of a dairy farm near an air force base in New Mexico, the agency found the PFAS perfluoroctanesulfonate (PFOS) at levels of more than 5,000 ppt in milk samples. It also found lower levels of various types of PFAS in cheese.

3. A sampling of food from grocery stores in three mid-Atlantic cities in October 2017 turned up 17,640 ppt of PFAS in chocolate cake, and detectable levels of PFOS in 10 of 21 meat samples, from 134 ppt in a frankfurter to 865 ppt in tilapia.

FDA spokeswoman Tara Rabin told The Associated Press that the levels found by the agency were "not likely to be a human health concern."

However, East Carolina University toxicologist Jamie DeWitt said the important question was the impact of contamination over time.

"Drinking one glass of contaminated water is unlikely to be associated with health risks, as is eating one slice of contaminated chocolate cake," DeWitt told The Associated Press. "Individually, each item is unlikely to be a huge problem, but collectively and over a lifetime, that may be a different story."

Coast Guard members work to clean an oil spill impacting Delaware beaches. U.S. Coast Guard District 5

Environmental officials and members of the U.S. Coast Guard are racing to clean up a mysterious oil spill that has spread to 11 miles of Delaware coastline.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

What happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years? Halfpoint / Getty Images

By Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie

Of all the plastic we've ever produced, only 9% has been recycled. So what happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years?

Read More Show Less

Trending

Plain Naturals offers a wide variety of CBD products including oils, creams and gummies.

Plain Naturals is making waves in the CBD space with a new product line for retail customers looking for high potency CBD products at industry-low prices.

Read More Show Less
Donald Trump and Joe Biden arrive onstage for the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 22, 2020. JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images

Towards the end of the final presidential debate of the 2020 election season, the moderator asked both candidates how they would address both the climate crisis and job growth, leading to a nearly 12-minute discussion where Donald Trump did not acknowledge that the climate is changing and Joe Biden called the climate crisis an existential threat.

Read More Show Less
What will happen to all these batteries once they wear out? Ronny Hartmann / AFP / Getty Images

By Zheng Chen and Darren H. S. Tan

As concern mounts over the impacts of climate change, many experts are calling for greater use of electricity as a substitute for fossil fuels. Powered by advancements in battery technology, the number of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on U.S. roads is increasing. And utilities are generating a growing share of their power from renewable fuels, supported by large-scale battery storage systems.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch