PFAS News Roundup

May 14: 100% of breast milk samples test positive for ‘forever chemicals,’ chemical giants DuPont and Daikin hid PFAS toxicity in food packaging, and more

On Thursday, a new study found the toxic “forever chemicals” called PFAS in 100 percent of breast milk samples tested. Total PFAS levels were up to nearly 2,000 times what EWG scientists consider safe. Numerous independent studies, endorsed by EWG, say PFAS in drinking water should be limited to 1 part per trillion, or ppt, to fully protect the health of children and other vulnerable populations.

Researchers analyzed PFAS in breast milk from 50 American mothers, and found it in every sample. Levels of some individual PFAS compounds were up to 500 ppt. The samples were tested for 39 different PFAS. In all, 16 were detected, and more than half of the samples had at least a dozen. However, nursing mothers should continue to breastfeed, as the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks from PFAS.

DuPont and Daikin hid PFAS toxicity in food packaging

For more than a decade, chemical giants DuPont and Daikin knew the health hazards linked to a PFAS compound called 6:2 FTOH, which is widely used in food packaging. But the companies hid the dangers from the public and the Food and Drug Administration, according to an investigation by The Guardian.

Although companies aren’t required to reveal internal studies, DuPont and Daikin had an ethical obligation to make those results public when tests showed strong links to health issues. In fact, both companies initially told the FDA that the compounds were safer and less likely to accumulate in humans than older types of PFAS.

Recent studies link exposure to 6:2 FTOH with kidney disease, liver damage, cancer, neurological damage, developmental problems and autoimmune disorders, and researchers also found higher mortality rates among young animals and mothers exposed to the chemicals.

PFAS detected in dogs near Chemours plant

Researchers at North Carolina State University tested blood samples from 31 dogs and 35 horses for the presence of 34 types of PFAS. PFAS were detected in all the dogs tested, with at least two different compounds found in each dog. Two PFAS compounds, PFOS and PFHxS, accounted for 90 percent of the detections. One dog was contaminated with 12 different types of PFAS.

The median blood serum level in the dogs was three times higher than that of horses, whose blood was also tested, and dogs also had a higher number of different PFAS in their blood. All but one horse had PFAS in its blood. The animals all lived near the Chemours plant near Fayetteville, N.C.

More PFAS news

  • In Australia, a newly published study found that PFAS were detected in pups of endangered sea lions and fur seals, which shows that the chemicals transferred from mothers to newborns.
  • Attorneys general of 18 states and Washington, D.C., urged the Environmental Protection Agency to expand monitoring and testing of drinking water for PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • Harvard researchers developed a model to predict whether a private well may be contaminated with any of five of the most frequently detected PFAS. Data on PFAS levels of private wells is limited in many regions, and monitoring for the chemicals is costly and time-consuming. 
  • Adults from the seven First Nations of Canada are being tested for PFAS, because levels are increasing in the Arctic region due to their being carried by the wind from the place where they are discharged.

David Andrews, Ph.D., EWG senior scientist, provides details in this video, directed and produced by Emily Wathen.


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