All of the garbage food, all of the toxic cosmetic products women have consumed are coming back to haunt their offspring.
A new study that checked American women’s breast milk for PFAS contamination detected the toxic chemical in all 50 samples tested, and at levels nearly 2,000 times higher than the level some public health advocates advise is safe for drinking water.
The findings “are cause for concern” and highlight a potential threat to newborns’ health, the study’s authors say.
“The study shows that PFAS contamination of breast milk is likely universal in the US, and that these harmful chemicals are contaminating what should be nature’s perfect food,” said Erika Schreder, a co-author and science director with Toxic Free Future, a Seattle-based non-profit that pushes industry to find alternatives to the chemicals.
PFAS, or per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 9,000 compounds that are used to make products like food packaging, clothing and carpeting water and stain resistant. They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down and have been found to accumulate in humans.
They are linked to cancer, birth defects, liver disease, thyroid disease, plummeting sperm counts and a range of other serious health problems.
The peer-reviewed study, published on Thursday in the Environmental Science and Technology journal, found PFAS at levels in milk ranging from 50 parts per trillion (ppt) to more than 1,850ppt.
There are no standards for PFAS in breast milk, but the public health advocacy organization Environmental Working Group puts its advisory target for drinking water at 1ppt, and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, within the Department of Health and Human Services, recommends as little as 14ppt in children’s drinking water.
Though researchers are concerned by the findings, newborns are difficult to study so there has not been a thorough analysis of how PFAS affect them, said Sheela Sathyanarayana, a co-author of the study and pediatrician with the University of Washington.
But she added that studies of older children and adults have linked the chemicals to hormonal disruptions and suggests PFAS harm the immune system, which could be especially problematic for infants because breast milk bolsters their immune system.
Though the study checked a relatively small sample size, the contamination cut across socioeconomic and geographic groupings, which is “what makes the issue so difficult on an individual level”, Sathyanarayana said.
“What it speaks to is that the chemicals are so ubiquitous that we can’t really predict who will have the highest exposures,” she added.
Since these chemicals are virtually everywhere, everything women do is having an impact. Every McDonald’s, every Snickers bar, every shampoo and hair product, the makeup — everything.
It doesn’t matter if they did it 20 years ago when they were kids. These poisons permanently transform them.
If we don’t figure out a way to remove or neuter these chemicals, we’re going to encounter more and more transgenders and androgynous people everywhere.
You cannot trust companies with your health.
Chemical giants DuPont and Daikin knew the dangers of a PFAS compound widely used in food packaging since 2010, but hid them from the public and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), company studies obtained by the Guardian reveal.
The chemicals, called 6:2 FTOH, are now linked to a range of serious health issues, and Americans are still being exposed to them in greaseproof pizza boxes, carryout containers, fast-food wrappers, and paperboard packaging.
The companies initially told the FDA that the compounds were safer and less likely to accumulate in humans than older types of PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals” and submitted internal studies to support that claim.
But Daikin withheld a 2009 study that indicated toxicity to lab rats’ livers and kidneys, while DuPont in 2012 did not alert the FDA or public to new internal data that indicated that the chemical stays in animals’ bodies for much longer than initially thought.
Science from industry, the FDA and independent researchers now links 6:2 FTOH to kidney disease, liver damage, cancer, neurological damage, developmental problems and autoimmune disorders, while researchers also found higher mortality rates among young animals and mothers exposed to the chemicals.
Had the FDA seen the data, it is unlikely that it would have approved 6:2 FTOH, said Maricel Maffini, an independent researcher who studies PFAS in food packaging. And though Daikin may have broken the law, it and DuPont, which has previously been caught hiding studies that suggest toxicity in PFAS, are not facing any repercussions.
The 6:2 FTOH compound is part of a newer generation of “short chain” PFAS that were designed to replace older and supposedly more harmful “long chain” PFAS. The industry claims that short chain compounds are uniformly safe and “practically non-toxic”. However, independent researchers like Erika Schreder, science director for Toxic Free Future, have found that PFAS, regardless of chain length, accumulate in the environment and humans, and are toxic.
There are no safe PFAS.