Fast Food Wrappers and Popcorn Bags Leach Fire-Fighting Chemical into Food

popcorn photo

Image: Jennifer via Flickr

The evils of fast food are seemingly endless: they are hazards to both our health and to the environment, and who knows what the consequences of all the preservatives are. But now, turns out the packaging also leaches its own worrisome problems directly into the food wrapped inside them. A new study has found that perfluoroalkyls, synthetic chemicals that repel oil and are used on paper packaging like food wrappers and popcorn bags to prevent grease from leaking through them, can migrate directly into food—and then into human blood, where these chemicals have already been found.

ENS reports that in addition to food packaging, perfluoroalkyls are used in "surface protection products such as carpet and clothing treatments and coating for paper and cardboard packaging," but the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, a branch of the CDC, shows that perfluoroalkyls are also used in "fire-fighting foams."

There are different types of perfluoroalkyls and the agency does not specify which is used for this purpose, but if it's even a different acid in the same category, how comforting is that?

Perfluoroalkyls are known to stay in the body for years—according to the Agency for Toxic Substances, "It takes approximately 4 years for the level in the body to go down by half, even if no more is taken in." The effects can include changes in sex hormones and cholesterol levels.

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