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A new lawsuit in the United States says that many plastic containers used to hold food, cleaning supplies, personal care items, and other consumer products are likely contaminated with toxic PFAS. The lawsuit asks federal courts to finally halt their production.
The Guardian reported that the lawsuit references soon-to-be-published research that found PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances) from HDPE (high-density polyethylene) plastic containers leach at extremely high levels into things like ketchup, mayonnaise, olive oil, and everyday products.
The defendant, Inhance, produces tens of millions of consumer containers that contain PFAS, according to the consumer advocacy group behind the lawsuit. The plaintiffs are asking the judge to order Inhance to follow EPA rules that require it to receive approval for its production process. The groups also claim that regulators have known of the potential health risks since early 2021 but have failed to eliminate them.
“It’s a grave concern for me that these containers are used for food, full stop,” said Kyla Bennett, a former EPA scientist who is now with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which brought the suit with the Center for Environmental Health.
“[Regulators] have known about this for a while and nobody has taken strong action to stop it, which is mind-boggling.”
Inhance treats plastic containers with fluorinated gas to create a barrier to keep the products inside from degrading. The consumer group says that this process creates PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, as a byproduct. This includes PFOA which is one of the most dangerous in its class. EPA rules that were implemented in 2020 require companies that are manufacturing PFAS to submit for a safety review and approval, which the suit alleges Inhance failed to do so.
PFAS has been linked to health issues like immune system suppression, lower birth weight, and increased cancer risk. Packaging made from PFAS often resembles paper or cardboard but is smooth and oil-resistant. Just like plastic, these chemicals can seep into the food or beverage that it is holding, which a study in 2021 found is even more likely when the food is fatty, salty, or acidic like most fast food is. Also, like plastic, PFAS can contaminate water and soil when they end up in landfills and when they are burned, the chemical spreads through the air.
Currently, the EPA has guidelines on PFAS in drinking water but more needs to be done to keep these dangerous chemicals out of our food, water, and air.
- Study Finds PFAS in Dozens of Packaged Food Products Across Restaurants and Grocery Stores
- Finally, EPA to Regulate PFAs in Drinking Water!
- California is Suing 3M, DuPont, and other Companies Over Toxic Forever Chemicals
- Finally! The EPA Moves to Label Some Forever Chemicals as Hazardous
- Researchers Say There is No More Drinkable Rainwater on Planet Earth
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