Originally published November 22 2010
Microwave popcorn contains dangerous chemical
by S. L. Baker, features writer
(NaturalNews) Would you like salt, butter -- and a helping of perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCAs) with your popcorn? You may say "yes" to the first two ingredients and "certainly not!" to the last one. But the problem is, if you are eating microwaved popcorn or packaged snack foods, you are most likely getting dosed with these potentially toxic chemicals without any choice.
PFCAs, the best known of which is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), have been found to accumulate in the blood of people, as well as in wildlife, worldwide. PFOAs are the breakdown products of chemicals used to make non-stick and water-resistant and stain-repellant products that coat kitchen pans, some clothing and food packaging. In research just reported in Environmental Health Perspectives, University of Toronto (U of T) scientists have concluded PFCAs, which are found in virtually all junk food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags, migrate into food and are then ingested by people.
No one knows exactly what the long-term health risks are from exposure to these chemicals. But earlier this year, Japanese scientists at Osaka University published an animal study in the journal Prostaglandins, Leucotrines and Essential Fatty Acids showing that PPCAs impact the function of platelets -- components of blood that are important for regulating bleeding and clotting in the body.
"We suspected that a major source of human PFCA exposure may be the consumption and metabolism of polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters or PAPs," Jessica D'eon, a graduate student in the U of T Department of Chemistry, said in a statement to the media. "PAPs are applied as grease proofing agents to paper food contact packaging such as fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags."
For their U of T study, D'eon and Scott Mabury, the lead researcher and a professor in the U of T Department of Chemistry, exposed rats to PAPs either orally or by injection. Then the animals were monitored for a period of three weeks to document the concentrations of the PAPs and PFCA metabolites, including PFOA, in their blood. Because human exposure to PAPs was calculated by the scientists in an earlier study, the research team used the PAP concentrations observed in human blood together with the PAP and PFCA concentrations observed in the rats to come up with figures on human PFOA exposure from PAP metabolism.
"We found the concentrations of PFOA from PAP metabolism to be significant and concluded that the metabolism of PAPs could be a major source of human exposure to PFOA, as well as other PFCAs," Mabury said in the press statement. "This discovery is important because we would like to control human chemical exposure, but this is only possible if we understand the source of this exposure."
Mabury pointed out that some people claim the contamination of humans with PFCAs is simply the result of exposure to past chemical exposure, instead of chemicals currently found in food wrappers and home products. But the U of T research shows that's a false assumption.
"In this study we clearly demonstrate that the current use of PAPs in food contact applications does result in human exposure to PFCAs, including PFOA. We cannot tell whether PAPs are the sole source of human PFOA exposure or even the most important, but we can say un equivocally that PAPs are a source and the evidence from this study suggests this could be significant,"Mabury concluded.
Editor's note: NaturalNews is opposed to the use of animals in medical experiments that expose them to harm. We present these findings in protest of the way in which they were acquired.
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