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Public health advocates on Thursday demanded federal action to ban the use of toxic “forever chemicals” found in many household products after 100% of breast milk samples were found in a study to be contaminated with the substances.
Researchers at Toxic-Free Future, Indiana University, the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute studied 50 samples of breast milk from American women from all over the country, representing a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. All 50 samples contained per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at levels nearly 2,000 times the amount considered safe for drinking water.
Devastating to hear that toxic PFAS was found in the breast milk of 100% of the 50 women tested doe it in the US. More than half were feeding 19 PFAS SUBSTANCES TO THEIR BABIES. The chems are endocrine disrupters & linked to 2 cancers and lots of diseaseshttps://t.co/m5Ohi7KmZn
— Rachel Salvidge (@RachSalv) May 13, 2021
Truly terrifying, even in a terrifying world. All the breast milk tested had dangerous levels of chemicals that are “linked to cancer, birth defects, liver disease, thyroid disease, plummeting sperm counts and a range of other serious health problems.” https://t.co/0hKR5ZwSog
— Linda Watson ⓥ (@cookforgood) May 13, 2021
“We now know that babies, along with nature’s perfect food, are getting toxic PFAS that can affect their immune systems and metabolism,” said Erika Schreder, science director at Toxic-Free Future and a co-author of the study, which was published Thursday in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
“We shouldn’t be finding any PFAS in breast milk and our findings make it clear that broader phaseouts are needed to protect babies and young children during the most vulnerable stages of life,” she added. “Moms work hard to protect their babies, but big corporations are putting these, and other toxic chemicals that can contaminate breast milk, in products when safer options are available.”
The group called on state and federal lawmakers to ban the use of PFAS, which are found in food-packaging, non-stick cookware, water-proof clothing and stain guards like ScotchGard.
Our new study found #PFAS chemicals in 100% of moms’ breast milk.
Companies put them in many everyday products—contaminating people from manufacture to use to disposal.
To protect babies, states, Congress and companies must #BanPFAS!
WATCH THE VIDEO: https://t.co/L31RmI41zq
— Toxic-Free Future (@ToxFreeFuture) May 13, 2021
PFAS have been linked to hormonal disruptions, cancers, liver disease, thyroid disease, plummeting sperm counts in men, weakened immune systems, and other health problems. There has not been a thorough analysis of how the chemicals affect newborns and older babies.
Manufacturers often don’t disclose the chemicals they use to make their products, making PFAS difficult to avoid.
Chemical companies have claimed in recent years that PFAS that are currently in use do not build up in humans, but the study found 16 compounds including several of the industry’s newer generation of chemicals.
PFAS were found at levels ranging from 50 parts per trillion to more than 1,850 parts per trillion. The study also found that the presence of PFAS in breast milk is on the rise around the world and is doubling every four years.
“The chemicals are so ubiquitous that we can’t really predict who will have the highest exposures,” Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a pediatrician at the University of Washington and study co-author, told The Guardian.
The EU has moved to ban the use of PFAS when other substances can be used instead, and Washington state lawmakers are working to phase out the use of forever chemicals. At the federal level, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) is expected to introduce a ban on PFAS in food packaging.
“If a harmful chemical can end up in breast milk due to its persistence or ability to bioaccumulate, it should be prohibited in everyday products we are constantly exposed to,” said Laurie Valeriano, executive director of Toxic-Free Future. “It’s time for more states and the federal government to follow the lead of Washington state and ban PFAS and other equally dangerous classes of chemicals in products, especially when safer alternatives are found. Prevention-based policies are critical to ending this harmful and unnecessary contamination of our most precious resources — from breast milk to drinking water.”
Originally published by Common Dreams.