Denmark Bans PFAS Chemicals

Denmark Bans Harmful PFAS Chemicals In Food Packaging

Denmark will be the first country to have a ban on harmful PFAS chemicals from food packaging, which has been linked to cancer, elevated cholesterol and even decreased fertility, starting next year.

PFAS substances, sometimes are called as “forever chemicals”. This is because they don’t break down in the environment. These chemicals are used to repel grease and water in packaging for fatty and moist foods such as burgers and cakes.

Food Minister of Denmark, Mogens Jensen said in a statement Monday that he doesn’t want to accept the risk of harmful fluorinated chemicals (PFAS) migrating from the packaging and into our food. These chemicals represent such a health problem that they can no longer wait for the EU.

Harmful PFAS chemicals are a family of potentially thousands of synthetic chemicals that are extremely persistent in the environment and in our bodies. PFAS is a short form for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances and includes chemicals known as PFOS, PFOA, and GenX.

Denmark Bans PFAS Chemicals
Chemical Structure of PFOA

These chemicals are all identified by signature elemental bonds of fluorine and carbon elements, that are extremely strong and this is what makes it so difficult for PFAS chemicals to disintegrate in the environment or in our bodies.

Under Denmark’s new regulation and as a part of Denmark’s Ban on  PFAS Chemicals, baking paper, and also microwave popcorn bags, for example, will be required to be manufactured without any PFAS.

Arlene Blum of Green Science Policy Institute and the Department of Chemistry at University of California, Berkeley, said that they congratulate Denmark on leading the way for healthier food and hope this first step by Denmark will encourage similar action across the EU, the US and worldwide.

Harmful PFAS chemicals have been manufactured since the 1940s. These chemicals can be found in Teflon nonstick products, stains, and water repellants, paints, cleaning products, food packaging, and firefighting foams.

These PFAS chemicals can easily migrate into the air, dust, food, soil, and also water. People can also be exposed to PFAS through food packaging and industrial exposure.

A growing body of scientific research had found that there are potential adverse health impacts associated with PFAS chemical exposure, including the serious conditions like liver damage, high cholesterol, obesity, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, hormone suppression, and even cancer.

Danish Veterinary and Food Administration in a statement said that the PFAS substances are very difficult to break down in the environment, and these chemicals accumulate in humans and also in animals.

Denmark’s ban on PFAS covers the use of PFAS chemicals in food contact materials of cardboard and paper which are commonly used for food packaging. The Danish government said the country would continue to be possible to use recycled paper and paper for food packaging, but said harmful PFAS compounds must be separated from the food with a barrier which ensures that these chemicals do not migrate into the food.

The PFOS and PFOA chemicals are the two most studied in PFAS chemicals and these have been identified as the contaminants of emerging concern by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The PFOS was voluntarily phased out of production in the US by 3M, the main manufacturer, starting in the year 2000. And in 2006, PFOA chemical began to be phased out as well. The PFOA and PFOS chemicals are no longer manufactured or even imported in the US, but similar replacement chemicals for PFOA chemical and PFOS such as the GenX, maybe just as persistent told Susan M. Pinney, a professor in the Department of Environmental Health at the University of Cincinnati, to CNN.

The European Food Safety Agency said that it is reassessing the risks PFAS chemicals pose to human health.

Author: Ria Roy

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