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Consumer Group Urges Tighter Restrictions on Toxic Fluorinated Chemicals

California-based consumer watchdog group Center for Environmental Health is calling for more stringent restrictions on toxic non-stick fluorinated chemicals (PFAS) following the release of a government report that ostensibly shows that those chemicals “represent a far greater threat to human health than previously understood.” According to this group, the report also states that the safety level for exposure to two well-known PFAS (PFOA and PFOS) are up to ten times lower than those set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

CEH indicates that the report by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry was made public following intense pressure from environmental and public health groups, community members adversely impacted by these chemicals, and members of Congress. The watchdog group states that the report found that PFAS chemicals are linked to pregnancy and fertility problems, liver damage, increased cholesterol, thyroid disease, asthma and others health problems. The ATSDR review of the literature also concluded that some studies found PFAS chemicals interfere with normal hormone function, which can lead to a wide range of negative health outcomes including developmental and reproductive problems. Ansje Miller, policy director for CEH, described EPA Commissioner Scott Pruitt’s failure to properly regulate these chemicals as “unconscionable.”

According to a recent CEH report, PFAS are currently found in a variety of disposable food ware products, including moulded fibre products such as wheat fibre (wheat straw or wheat stalk), blend of plant fibres, silver grass (miscanthus) and sugarcane waste (bagasse), including moulded recycled paper and PLA-lined moulded sugarcane. On the other hand, the report found that products made of bamboo, clay-coated paper or paperboard, clear PLA, paper lined with PLA, palm leaf, paper with unknown coatings and uncoated paper consistently tested as having no or low levels of fluorine. Microwave popcorn is another product that has been found to contain toxic PFAS.

CEH adds that the federal government’s failure to address the concerns posed by PFAS has forced a number of U.S. states, including California, Michigan, New Jersey and Washington, to adopt more robust standards for water quality and eliminate other routes of exposure such as firefighting foam, food packaging, carpets and other consumer products.

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