According to an editorial published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives on May 1, pizza boxes and household dust contain industrial chemicals that harm health and environment. Environmental scientists have strongly warned about this danger.
200 scientists from 38 countries have signed the editorial, “The Madrid Statement.” This editorial requires restriction on chemicals known as PFACs and their alternatives without any thorough testing on their safety.
“Research is needed to find safe alternatives for all current uses of PFASs,” explain Linda Birnbaum from the US Department of Health and Human Services and Phillippe Grandjean from the University of Southern Denmark and the Harvard School of Public Health.
“The question is, should these chemicals continue to be used in consumer products in the meantime, given their persistence in the environment?”
Widespread and deadly
PFASs, or perfluorinated alkylated substances, commonly referred to as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl, are widespread in modern world. Their use is to repel water and oil in products like pizza boxes, waxed pastry bags, beverage cups, wax paper and carpet treatments. They are widely used because they increase products’ resistance to high temperatures.
Unfortunately, PFASs easily end up into food and airborne dust. These chemicals are also emitted through industrial applications and foam that shuts fire down. PFASs migrate from these sources and end up in water and soil, and thus multiply sources of exposure.
According to “The Madrid Statement,” animal studies have found a strong connection between PFASs and health problems like liver toxicity, dangerous changes in lipid metabolism, and problems with immune, endocrine and neurological system.
Scientists have also confirmed that these chemicals can cause tumors, behavioral toxicity and death in infants.
According to the results of a human epidemiological research, PFASs is also associated with testicular and kidney cancer, ulcerative colitis, poor immune response, decreased hormone levels, delayed puberty, obesity, lower birth weight, high cholesterol levels, hypothyroidism and improperly functioning liver.
Studies indicate that PFAS should be also considered as persistenr organic pollutant, or POP. This means that they are able to resist environmental degradation and eventually bioaccumulate in tissues, in both people and animals. These chemicals have been found in people and animals all over the world.
“The Madrid Statement” explains that during degradation, PFASs break down to perfluorinated toxic chemicals resistant to degradation.
Replacement chemicals are also toxic?
“The Madrid Statement” is the final result of decades spent in proving harmful effects from PFASs. Yes, the popular nonstick lining Teflon that is now made from fluoride-based toxic chemical PTFE, was first made from PFAS. The toxic formulation of the layer was discontinued due to evidence that had associated PFAS and cancer.
In 2005, DuPoint, the Teflon maer, was fined with $16.5 million by the Environmental Protection Agency. This came as a result of their policy to hide evidence of the toxic chemicals for years.
Other PFASs chemicals are also in the process of replacing, but according to “The Madrid Statement,” these alternatives may be as toxic as the original chemical, which is absolutely no improvement.
“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 explained.
The statement warns that these toxic alternatives could even increase the content of toxic perfluorinated chemicals in items around us and environment in general. Their adoption could be much worse, if the alternatives are ineffective and used in large amounts.
“The Madrid Statement” asked 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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