Fast Food Wrappers Leach Chemicals Into Your Meal

sofie_editedWe all know a lot of college students love fast food because it is a cheap and easy meal.  However, could it be that the packaging our meals are served in may alter the food itself making it unsafe?


In a recent (2/1/2017) peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology, “Fluorinated Compounds in U.S. Fast Food Packaging”, it was discovered that in 46% of food contact papers and in 20% of paperboard samples Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances were found.  Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFASs) are highly persistent synthetic chemicals that have been associated with cancer, developmental issues, immunotoxicity, and a variety of other human health related issues.  


The results of this study conclude some fast food packaging has PFASs that leach into our food and can increase our dietary intake of this toxic chemical, and some do not.The testing done on this packaging was able to detect the fluorine in packaging using particle induced y-ray emission (PIGE) spectroscopy.  PIGE spectroscopy can now be used to detect PFASs in our food packaging to help create safer containers. This technique could be used by independent scientists on a large scale to help prevent human and environmental exposure to these toxicants found in packaging.  


The study also suggested hope that smaller chained PFASs could be safer than long chained PFASs.  However, more research needs to be done to determine this because these chemicals are highly persistent and will stay in our environment for hundreds of years. Like many other classes of chemicals, substitutions may be equally or of greater toxicity as the original chemical of concern.


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