If it was not bad enough that most pizzas contain GMOs, MSG, and a whole list of preservatives, now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) admits that pizza boxes are full of toxins that stay in the body for years and increase chances of cancer, birth defects, developmental issues and other health problems.
The FDA, pressured by numerous health and environmental groups, finally banned three of these chemicals. Unfortunately, it took them decades to make this decision, and it is five years too late as the U.S. chemical companies have stopped producing them in 2011, but there are hundreds of similar chemicals used in packaging today — and there is no ban on them.
The chemicals in question are perfluoroalkyl ethyl containing food-contact substances called perfluorinated compounds or PFCs. They are used as water and oil repellants in food packages such as pizza boxes, fast food containers, sandwich wrappers, and microwave bags. They may also be in cosmetics and even outerwear from major clothing companies (see below for more info).
In 2008 Environmental Working Group (EWG) investigated FDA safety policies for approval of new PFCs and found them completely inadequate. The FDA has since then approved 20 new PFCs for food packaging.
“Industrial chemicals that pollute people’s blood clearly have no place in food packaging. But, it’s taken the FDA more than 10 years to figure that out, and it’s banning only three chemicals that aren’t even made any more,” said EWG President Ken Cook.
DuPont’s Blatant Lies about Their Products
“We have a chemical that is bio-accumulating in every man, woman and child in America. DuPont stayed in the market strictly to make a buck,” said a former employee of DuPont Glen Evers.
In 2005 Evers disclosed that DuPont has been hiding their use of PFCs in food packaging at higher than the approved limit, while completely ignoring scientific evidence that they are harmful (especially in DuPont’s most well-known product Teflon).
But DuPont has known the serious health dangers of its products for decades. In the 1990s, multiple surveys and reports revealed statistically higher rates of cancer in workers exposed to PFOA, a type of PFC, as well side effects including abnormal levels of reproductive hormones, developmental issues on children, liver toxicity, thyroid issues, and suppression of the immune system.
In the early 2000s multiple blood tests showed PFOA contamination, even in newborns. The blood of at least 98% of Americans has been polluted by the PFCs and passed down to the unborn children though the umbilical cord.
Evers stated that the levels of PFCs entering consumers’ blood through coating of products greatly exceeds the federal health standard limits, according to The Washington Post.
Even though DuPont and 3M stopped using non-stick coating chemicals PFOA and PFOS, these chemicals remain in rivers and waterways and have contaminated drinking water for over 6.5 million people in 27 states.
Hundreds of other PFCs remain in use with many more new generations of chemicals being released. These chemicals are being approved with limited testing and almost no easily available consumer information about them.
Health Dangers of PFCs: from Heart Disease to Cancer
Numerous studies have shown PFCs, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), to be likely human carcinogens and a health risk for the following illnesses:
Cancer: A 2007 study shows a link between PFOA and pancreatic, testicular, liver, and breast cancer in animals.
Reproductive and Developmental issues: Multiple toxicology studies discovered negative effects of PFOA and PFOS on fetal development, male reproductive hormones, risk of miscarriage, and decreased birth weight.
Kidney disease: A 2011 article analyzed the effect of environmental exposures on the risk of chronic kidney disease, and found PFC to be a possible link.
Thyroid disease: A 2010 report in Environmental Health Perspective found that people who had higher concentration of PFOA and PFOS in their blood were more likely to develop thyroid disease.
Heart attack and stroke: A 2012 study analyzed 1216 women from 1999-20003 National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey and found a correlation between levels of PFOA and cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke.
Other Sources of PFCs
“Are we going to find out in 50 years or in less time that these alternatives, the new generation of PFCs, are just as dangerous? It just seems like just a real egregious failure of the law,” says Bill Walker of EWG.
Besides food containers and cookware, PFCs are also found in waterproof apparel such as raincoats, personal care products from dental floss to shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning products, stain-resistant carpet, paints, and electronics.
PFCs-containing Products to Avoid Buying and Using
- Non-stick cookware
- Fast-food packaging that is “grease-repellent”
- Furniture and carpets that is labeled as “stain-resistant”
- Clothing that is marked as “stain-repellant” and “water-repellent” including rain coats from brands like Adidas, The North Face and Columbia
- Cosmetics and personal care products that contain ingredients with the words “fluoro” and “perfluoro.” For a list of 251 cosmetics products from brands like Covergirl, Wet n’ Wild, and others to avoid, check out the full report from EWG
“This is another egregious example of how, all too often, regulatory actions under the nation’s broken chemical laws are too little and too late to protect Americans’ health. Congress needs to ensure that chemicals that make their way into food, either as deliberate additives or as contaminants from packaging and other outside sources, are thoroughly investigated,” said Cook.
Complete document of the FDA’s ban can be viewed here.
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