(NaturalNews) Widespread industrial chemicals found in pizza boxes and household dust are dangerous to human and environmental health, a group of environmental scientists has warned in an editorial published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives on May 1.
The editorial, known as “The Madrid Statement,” was signed by 200 scientists from 38 countries. It urges restrictions on the group of chemicals known as PFASs, and warns against adopting alternatives to PFAS without first subjecting them to rigorous safety testing.
“[R]esearch is needed to find safe alternatives for all current uses of PFASs,” wrote Linda Birnbaum of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Phillippe Grandjean of the University of Southern Denmark and the Harvard School of Public Health in an accompanying commentary.
“The question is, should these chemicals continue to be used in consumer products in the meantime, given their persistence in the environment?”
Ubiquitous and deadly
PFASs (perfluorinated alkylated substances, also known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl) are ubiquitous in modern life. They are used to repel oil and water in products such as pizza boxes, waxed pastry bags or beverage cups, wax paper and even carpet treatments. They are also prized for their ability to increase items’ durability while resisting high temperatures.
PFASs easily migrate from household items into food or airborne dust. They are also emitted by industrial applications and even foam used to fight fires. PFASs from all of these sources eventually end up in soil and water, thereby multiplying sources of human and environmental exposure.
“The Madrid Statement” notes that animal studies have linked PFASs to a wide range of health problems, including liver toxicity and harmful changes to lipid metabolism and the immune, endocrine and neurological systems. The chemicals have also been shown to cause tumors, behavioral toxicity and infant death.
Human epidemiological research has implicated PFASs in testicular and kidney cancer, ulcerative colitis, decreased immune response, reduced hormone levels, delayed puberty, obesity, lower birth weight, high cholesterol, hypothyroidism and liver malfunction.
Alarmingly, studies have shown that PFASs are also persistent organic pollutants (POPs), meaning that they resist environmental degradation and also bioaccumulate in human and animal tissues. Studies have detected these compounds in the bodies of people and animals around the globe.
“The Madrid Statement” points out that, when PFASs do degrade, they often break down into perfluorinated chemicals, which are also toxic and even more resistant to degradation.