Quantcast
Health
Pexels

Is Your Popcorn Laced With Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals?

By Kathryn Alcantar and Jose Bravo / Independent Media Institute

No one should be exposed to toxic chemicals in their food, particularly children. But that's exactly what the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found in tests of microwave popcorn bags sold in Dollar Stores. These stores are frequented by communities of color and millions of poor Americans.


In fact, every single bag that was independently tested contained toxic per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)—chemicals linked to developmental problems, hormone disruption, organ damage and more. These findings are particularly alarming for children's health, as their bodies are still developing, making them more vulnerable to the effects of hormone disruptors.

In response to these findings, CEH released a video featuring the Oakland rapper Mystic and a local kindergarten class to educate families about dangerous toxic chemicals put in microwave popcorn bags. Shot at Roses in Concrete Community School in East Oakland, the fun and engaging educational video also includes a supporting fact sheet that teaches families how to make their own safe, toxic-free microwave popcorn.

PFASs confuse our bodies' hormones and damage the liver and kidney. There are hundreds of PFAS chemicals, yet there is no publicly available information about which ones are used in microwave popcorn products. In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that certain PFAS chemicals could migrate out of microwave popcorn bags and contaminate popcorn. A 2007 publication from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tested 17 types of microwave popcorn from eight different brands and detected PFAS in the air from just-heated popcorn bags, suggesting people might also inhale these chemicals when eating microwave popcorn.

Unfortunately, it's not just microwave popcorn we need to worry about. Families may be exposed to a wide array of hazardous chemicals in a variety of products, most of which are under-regulated by authorities. PFASs or their chemical cousin perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are used for stain, water and/or grease resistance. They are not just in microwave popcorn bags but also in many household items, including furniture, carpet and carpet cleaners, textiles, floor waxes and outdoor apparel. A 2017 study by CEH—Kicking the Can?—found that 38 percent of the cans tested from Dollar Stores contained the hazardous chemical BPA, another hormone disruptor. Numerous other studies have also shown that toxic chemicals are commonly found in Dollar Store products (summary and report, BPA in canned food).

The video is part of a larger effort by the Campaign for Healthier Solutions (CHS) to convince discount retailers including Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Dollar General, and 99 Cents Only to embrace greater corporate responsibility and protect the health of customers and their families.

The seriousness of the threat posed by PFAS to consumers makes this more than just a toxic chemical issue, but a social justice one. Dollar Stores are often located in communities of color and poor neighborhoods that are already exposed to chemical hazards at higher levels. Frequently, Dollar Stores are the only store selling food and household products for miles, and they don't typically provide plain popcorn kernels as other retailers have, which are needed for making safer popcorn. Adding to this problem, Dollar Stores have committed to doing almost nothing beyond their minimum legal requirements to protect people who have no other shopping options.

CEH, CHS and a broad coalition of community groups, public health advocates, environmental justice organizations and consumers are urging Dollar Stores to adopt comprehensive, transparent hazardous chemical policies; to encourage microwave popcorn manufacturers to stop selling food products which contain hazardous chemicals; and to offer safer alternatives—like popcorn kernels—in their stores until they do.

Take Action: Tell Dollar Stores to stop selling toxic popcorn.

Kathryn Alcantar is the California policy director for the Center for Environmental Health.

Jose Bravo is the national coordinator for the Campaign for Healthier Solutions.

This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
A family wears face masks as they walk through the smoke filled streets after the Thomas wildfire swept through Ventura, California on Dec. 6, 2017. MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images

How to Protect Your Children From Wildfire Smoke

By Cecilia Sierra-Heredia

We're very careful about what our kids eat, but what about the air they breathe?

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Hero Images / Getty Images

Study: Children Have Better Nutrition When They Live Near Forests

Spending time in nature is known to boost mental and emotional health. Now, a new global study has found that children in 27 developing nations tend to have more diverse diets and better nutrition when they live near forests.

The paper, published Wednesday in Science Advances, provides evidence that forest conservation can be an important tool in promoting better nutrition in developing countries, rather than clear-cutting forests for more farmland.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Navy torpedo bomber spraying DDT just above the trees in Goldendale, WA in 1962. USDA Forest Service

Maternal DDT Exposure Linked to Increased Autism Risk

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry Thursday found that mothers exposed to the banned pesticide DDT were nearly one-third more likely to have children who developed autism, Environmental Health News reported.

Keep reading... Show less
GMO
Significant cupping of leaves from dicamba drift on non-Xtend soybeans planted next to Xtend beans in research plots at the Ashland Bottoms farm near Manhattan, KS. Dallas Peterson, K-State Research and Extension / CC BY 2.0

Top Seed Companies Urge EPA to Limit Dicamba

Two of the nation's largest independent seed sellers, Beck's Hybrids and Stine Seed, are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to place limits on the spraying of the drift-prone pesticide dicamba, Reuters reported.

This could potentially hurt Monsanto, which along with DowDupont and BASF SE, makes dicamba formulations to use on Monsanto's Xtend seeds that are genetically engineered to resist applications of the weedkiller. Beck's Hybrids and Stine Seed, as well as other companies, sell those seeds.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
Baby son in high chair feeding father. Getty Images

Baby Food Tests Find 68 Percent Contain 'Worrisome' Levels of Heavy Metals

Testing published by Consumer Reports (CR) Thursday found "concerning levels" of toxic metals in popular U.S. baby and toddler food.

The consumer advocacy group tested 50 nationally-distributed, packaged foods designed for toddlers and babies for mercury, cadmium, arsenic and lead.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke talks to journalists outside the White House West Wing before attending a Trump cabinet meeting on Aug. 16. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Zinke Announces Plan to Fight Wildfires With More Logging

The Trump administration announced a new plan Thursday to fight ongoing wildfires with more logging, and with no mention of additional funding or climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
Wangan and Jagalingou cultural leader Adrian Burragubba visits Doongmabulla Springs in Australia. The Wangan and Jagalingou are fighting a proposed coal mine that would likely destroy the springs, which are sacred to the Indigenous Australian group. Wangan and Jagalingou

Indigenous Australians Take Fight Against Giant Coal Mine to the United Nations

By Noni Austin

For tens of thousands of years, the Wangan and Jagalingou people have lived in the flat arid lands of central Queensland, Australia. But now they are fighting for their very existence. Earlier this month, they took their fight to the United Nations after years of Australia's failure to protect their fundamental human rights.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Jones Gap State Park in Greenville County, South Carolina. Jason A G / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Victory for Clean Water: Court Reinstates Obama WOTUS Rule for 26 States

A federal judge invalidated the Trump administration's suspension of the Clean Water Rule, effectively reinstating the Obama-era regulation in 26 states.

The 2015 rule, also known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS) defines which waters can be protected from pollution and destruction under the Clean Water Act. It protects large water bodies such as lakes and rivers, as well as small streams and wetlands.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!