Denmark has proposed preventing harmful synthesized chemicals called PFAS from food packaging by 2020, in what would be the first such ban by a country.
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS), also referred to as “forever chemical substances” because of their inability to break down in the atmosphere, would be barred from paper and cardboard used with meals, according to a media release from the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food Monday.
The chemical compounds are used to make products grease- and water-repellent, though research has shown that they will have side-effects on humans and animals.
Studies have proven that PFAS can cause tumors in lab animals and have been connected to cancer and thyroid hormone disorder, per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“Both chemical substances are very resolute in the environment and in the human body ― which means they don’t dissolve and they can accumulate over time,” the EPA writes on its website.
Some of the meals and food packaging found to contain PFAS include microwave popcorn, fast-food wrappers, pizza boxes, and meats and seafood. People can face low levels of PFAS via products that are commercially used to make them stain- and water-repellent, or nonstick. These items include carpets, plastics, rubber, leather, paper, cookware, and dental floss. Water can also get spoilt if sourced from a well or a region that has been contaminated with PFAS.
Although the chemical substances don’t dissolve in the environment, the human body can break down about half of the amount ingested within four or five years, David Andrews, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, said