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Pizza boxes and food containers contain cancer-causing chemicals, alarmed scientists warn


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(NaturalNews) Widespread industrial chemicals found in pizza boxes and household dust are dangerous to human and environmental health, a group of environmental scientists has warned in an editorial published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives on May 1.

The editorial, known as "The Madrid Statement," was signed by 200 scientists from 38 countries. It urges restrictions on the group of chemicals known as PFASs, and warns against adopting alternatives to PFAS without first subjecting them to rigorous safety testing.

"[R]esearch is needed to find safe alternatives for all current uses of PFASs," wrote Linda Birnbaum of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Phillippe Grandjean of the University of Southern Denmark and the Harvard School of Public Health in an accompanying commentary.

"The question is, should these chemicals continue to be used in consumer products in the meantime, given their persistence in the environment?"

Ubiquitous and deadly

PFASs (perfluorinated alkylated substances, also known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl) are ubiquitous in modern life. They are used to repel oil and water in products such as pizza boxes, waxed pastry bags or beverage cups, wax paper and even carpet treatments. They are also prized for their ability to increase items' durability while resisting high temperatures.

PFASs easily migrate from household items into food or airborne dust. They are also emitted by industrial applications and even foam used to fight fires. PFASs from all of these sources eventually end up in soil and water, thereby multiplying sources of human and environmental exposure.

"The Madrid Statement" notes that animal studies have linked PFASs to a wide range of health problems, including liver toxicity and harmful changes to lipid metabolism and the immune, endocrine and neurological systems. The chemicals have also been shown to cause tumors, behavioral toxicity and infant death.

Human epidemiological research has implicated PFASs in testicular and kidney cancer, ulcerative colitis, decreased immune response, reduced hormone levels, delayed puberty, obesity, lower birth weight, high cholesterol, hypothyroidism and liver malfunction.

Alarmingly, studies have shown that PFASs are also persistent organic pollutants (POPs), meaning that they resist environmental degradation and also bioaccumulate in human and animal tissues. Studies have detected these compounds in the bodies of people and animals around the globe.

"The Madrid Statement" points out that, when PFASs do degrade, they often break down into perfluorinated chemicals, which are also toxic and even more resistant to degradation.

Replacement chemicals just as toxic?

"The Madrid Statement" is the result of decades of evidence of harm from PFASs. In fact, the famous nonstick lining Teflon (now made from the toxic chemical PTFE, also fluoride-based) was originally made from a PFAS. This formulation of Teflon was discontinued after evidence linked the PFAS ingredient to cancer. In 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency fined Teflon maker DuPont $16.5 million for hiding evidence of the chemical's toxic effects for years.

Other PFASs are now also in the process of being phased out, but the authors of "The Madrid Statement" warn that this may not do any good if they are simply replaced with just-as-toxic alternatives.

"Although some of the long-chain PFASs are being regulated or phased out, the most common replacements are short-chain PFASs with similar structures, or compounds with fluorinated segments joined by ether linkages," they wrote.

Adopting such alternatives could actually increase the amount of toxic perfluorinated chemicals in the environment, the statement warns, if the alternatives are less effective and are therefore used in greater quantities.

"The Madrid Statement" calls for the global community to "take measures at the international level to reduce the use of PFASs in products and prevent their replacement with fluorinated alternatives in order to avoid long-term harm to human health and the environment."






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