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PFAS in Food Packaging

PFAS in Food Packaging

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a class of man-made chemicals used in the production of a wide range of consumer products such as stain-resistant carpets, non-stick pans, waterproof jackets, and grease-proof food packaging. These chemicals are extremely persistent, and some can linger in our bodies for many years. Nearly all Americans carry traces of these chemicals in our bodies.

With over 4,700 PFAS chemicals on the global market, these toxic chemicals pose an enormous public health challenge. PFAS have been linked to a wide range of health effects including immune system toxicity, elevated cholesterol, delayed mammary gland development, effects on the thyroid and liver, and cancer. Scientists are concerned that exposures to chemicals that alter mammary gland development may increase the risk of breast cancer later in life.

Many of the chemicals used in food packaging can leach into food and enter people’s bodies. A 2019 study by Silent Spring Institute revealed that people who ate more meals at home had significantly lower levels of PFAS in their bodies vs. those who consumed more fast food or ate out more often. This same study also showed that people who ate more microwave popcorn had higher PFAS in their blood. Chemicals in food packaging also raise health concerns when they are disposed of in landfills as they can enter the soil and groundwater, potentially contaminating the water supply. 

Download MBCC’s PFAS and Food Packaging Fact Sheet here.

A Call to Action!

For our 2020-2021 campaign, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) is reaching out to supporters to contact their local representatives in support of legislation that would ban PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) from food packaging across the Commonwealth. Continuing with the momentum from last year’s campaign which was focused on protecting Massachusetts drinking water from PFAS, this year we are extending that effort to address the PFAS found in items like sandwich wrappers and bakery bags. As part of MBCC’s new campaign, we are inviting all high school students across the Commonwealth to join this letter-writing campaign and make their voices heard with state legislators.

Many of the chemicals used in food packaging can leach into food and enter people’s bodies. A 2019 study by Silent Spring Institute revealed that people who ate more meals at home had significantly lower levels of PFAS in their bodies vs. those who consumed more fast food or ate out more often. Chemicals in food packaging also raise health concerns when they are disposed of in landfills as they can enter the soil and groundwater, potentially contaminating drinking water supplies.

Currently, Bill S. 1315 and Bill H. 3839 are two pieces of legislation geared towards removing these harmful chemicals from food packaging in Massachusetts. We are inviting MBCC supporters, along with educators, parents/caregivers, and high school students to voice their support for the passage of these two bills so we can help eradicate the health repercussions linked to exposure to these toxins.

S.1315 – An Act relative to chemicals in food packaging

H.3839 – An Act to ban the use of PFAS in food packaging

The Time to Act is Now!

In the past two years, Washington state and Maine have both been successful in adopting policies banning the use of PFAS in food packaging, likely to be followed next by California which has prioritized similar policies under their Green Chemistry & Safer Consumer Products legislation. It is crucial Massachusetts joins this list as well.

In addition to Massachusetts, the following states also have policies currently up for consideration related to banning PFAS from food packaging in favor of safer alternative options: Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

For information on how to identify & contact your local MA legislators, please visit: https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator

From there, you will be able to find the email address and telephone number to either send a written letter or speak directly with the legislators that serve your area to voice your support for these two bills.

For tips on how to start writing a letter to your legislator, please visit the National Education Association’s online resource: http://www.nea.org/home/19657.htm

Be sure to mention that you are contacting their office as part of MBCC’s 2020-2021 campaign!

Join MBCC in our efforts to protect future generations!