Last week, we learned that the Food and Drug Administration had detected PFAS compounds in pineapple, sweet potato, meat and chocolate cake. The presence of industrial compounds in our food was reported by the Environmental Working Group after a researcher from the Environmental Defense Fund photographed the research at a scientific conference in Europe.
While the FDA raises questions as to why this information should not be disclosed to the public (the agency released the data along with a statement on Tuesday), it has become clear that 3M, the company that was originally PFOS and PFOA, has long been aware that these toxic and harmful substances are present in the environment. Persistent chemicals have been found in our foods.
The Environmental Protection Agency has known the study for years, but it is not clear whether the FDA was aware of the research. The Environmental Working Group mentioned the 3M study in a 2002 report on PFAS chemicals and alerted the Centers for Disease Control.
On Tuesday, solicitor Rob Bilott wrote to the FDA to ask "how much the FDA has been aware of the data collected on behalf of the 3M company in 2001, which confirmed increased PFAS levels in the US food supply. "In 1999 Bilott sued DuPont for PFOA contamination at his plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where the company used the chemical to make Teflon. Through his lawsuit, he has obtained many documents about PFAS, which he has since passed on to the EPA, the FDA and other federal agencies.
The EPO did not answer any questions as to when exactly it learned about the 3M study. 3M did not respond to a request for comment. [TS]
Tuesday's FDA Declaration found that recent tests failed to "prove PFAS in the vast majority of foods tested" The FDA has no indication that these substances are a problem for the levels found in this limited sample for human health, ie a risk to food safety in human nutrition. "
However, there is ample evidence that this is the case even at very low levels. Both chemicals affect human immunity, reproduction, and development, and cause numerous health problems, including elevated cholesterol, thyroid disease, and cancer. Virtually everyone has some PFAS chemicals in their blood. They enter the body through food, water, dust and contact with consumer goods.
There are various ways that industrial chemicals can enter the food supply, including contaminated groundwater and sewage sludge that has been applied to crops nationwide for decades.
New research presented at a PFAS conference at Northeastern University this week suggests other effects of the chemicals, including increased hospitalization of children for infectious diseases. decreased kidney function; and changes in hormone levels at birth and in childhood . A study conducted in West Africa on the relationship between PFAS levels and the effect of measles vaccine added that chemicals interfere with children's immunity and weaken the effects of vaccines. Another study by Harvard Medical School's Department of Population Medicine found that high levels of PFAS are associated with a diet that is high in fiber-poor carbohydrates, fish, and high-fat meats.