The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has released an opinion proposing a revision to tolerable intakes of per- and polyfluoroalykl substances (PFAS), which food packaging can contain. The authors reportedly observed high levels of PFAS in “meat and meat products” as well as “fish and other seafood.” In addition, PFAS was “detected in blood samples of almost all individuals assessed, demonstrating ubiquitous exposure.”
Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) have introduced legislation that would providing funding for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct environmental sampling for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which can be used in food packaging. According to the senators' press release, "There are more than 3,000 chemicals containing PFAS but less than 30 of these substances can be detected using current technology. The data collected by the USGS could be used to better assess the likely health and environmental impacts of exposure to PFAS chemicals and determine how to address contamination moving forward."
Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed into law the Healthy Food Packaging Act (H.B. 2658/S.B. 6396), making the state the first in the country to ban perfluorinated chemicals (PFAs) in food packaging. If the Washington's Department of Ecology identifies safer alternatives to PFAs by January 1, 2020, the law will ban PFAs in paper food packaging effective January 1, 2022; if the state is unable to find a safer alternative, the law will not go into effect and the Department of Ecology must annually review the availability of alternatives. When the department finds an acceptable alternative, the ban will go into effect two years later.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has asked the New York health department to establish enforceable maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFOA and PFOS in public drinking water. In its 65-page petition, NRDC detailed the results of a year-long study of state drinking water sources, including purported findings of elevated levels of the chemicals in eight communities and blood serum concentrations ten times the national average in one city. NRDC argues that “in the absence of federal safeguards,” New York should act to (i) establish a MCL below 10 parts per trillion; (ii) study the potential harms of feeding infants with formula mixed with water or the consumption of contaminated water by breastfeeding mothers or pregnant women; and (iii) conduct comprehensive health assessments of residents in communities found to have elevated PFOA or PFOS concentrations in drinking water sources.
The California legislature is considering a bill to make the state the first in the nation to ban perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) from restaurant food wrappers and containers. The bill proposes that food providers “shall not serve, sell, offer for sale, or offer for promotional purposes prepared food or fast food in, on, or with take-out foodservice ware or packaging that contains a fluorinated chemical.” The bill has been referred to the Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials and set for hearing on April 25, 2017. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), scientists do not have enough information to evaluate the health effects of exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—a group of materials to which PFCs belong—although some studies have allegedly shown that PFAS may affect the growth of fetuses, decrease fertility and interfere with normal hormonal function, among other possible effects. Exposure to PFAS…
The California Environmental Protection Agency’s (Cal/EPA’s) Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has announced the development of hazard identification materials for nickel and nickel compounds, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and its salts, and pefluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and its salts to assist in the agency’s consideration of the chemicals for possible listing under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Prop. 65). Food is a major source of nickel exposure, with an average intake for adults estimated to be approximately 100 to 300 micrograms per day (µg/d), while PFOA and PFOS are chemical compounds that have been widely used in commercial and industrial applications, including food packaging and water-resistant coatings. OEHHA specifically seeks data relevant to assessing the chemicals’ reproductive toxicity for evaluation by the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee. Comments are due by April 4, 2016. See OEHHA News Release, February 19, 2016. Issue 594
Citing a “plethora of new data” published since issuing its toxicological profile for perfluoroalkyls in 2009, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has reissued the profile seeking additional information about the alleged health effects of exposure to the synthetic chemicals. PFOA and PFOS are the two perfluoroalkyls produced in the largest amounts in the United States and are used in coatings for paper and cardboard packaging to repel oil, grease and water. Comments are due by December 1, 2015. See Federal Register, September 2, 2015. Issue 577
The National Toxicology Program’s (NTP’s) Office of Health Assessment and Translation is inviting information submissions about ongoing studies or upcoming publications targeting evidence of an association between exposures to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and immunotoxicity to assist in the preparation of a monograph on the topic. PFOA and PFOS are chemical compounds that have been widely used in commercial and industrial applications, including food packaging and water-resistant coatings. NTP is also seeking scientists with expertise in areas such as epidemiology, immunotoxicology and biostatistics to serve on an ad hoc panel to peer review the draft monograph. Information submissions and nominations of scientific experts are due by September 30, 2015. See Federal Register, August 14, 2015. Issue 575
More than 200 scientists have signed a statement published in Environmental Health Perspectives that calls for limits on the use of certain water- and grease-resistant chemicals in industrial and consumer products. Describing these chemicals as “very persistent” once released into the environment, The Madrid Statement on Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) claims that animal studies have apparently linked long-chain PFASs to “liver toxicity, disruption of lipid metabolism and the immune and endocrine systems, adverse neurobehavioral effects, neonatal toxicity and death, and tumors in multiple organ systems.” In addition, the signatories point to a dearth of public information on shortchain alternatives or the current levels of PFASs in the environment. Citing these concerns, The Madrid Statement urges governments to restrict the use of PFASs, enforce labeling provisions and require industry to (i) “conduct more extensive toxicological testing,” (ii) “make chemical structures public,” (iii) “provide validated analytical methods for detection of PFASs,” and…
A study involving 2,874 pregnant women enrolled in the Odense Child Cohort has noted “significant associations” between serum concentrations of perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFASs) and miscarriage. Tina Kold Jensen, et al., “Association between Perfluorinated Compound Exposure and Miscarriage in Danish Pregnant Women,” PLOS One, April 2015. According to the study, two types of PFASs—perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanoic sulfate (PFOS)—widely used in consumer products and food packaging for their stain-, grease- and water resistance properties are now being replaced with newer PFASs such as perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) and perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), which have shorter elimination half lives in humans. In particular, researchers report that women in the highest tertile for PFNA and PFDA exposure in pregnancy “had odds ratios of 16.5 percent ... and 3.71 percent, respectively, as compared to the lowest tertile.” Though these associations still require confirmation, the study authors warn that their findings “are of potential public…