Clean Production Action teamed up with Ann Blake Environmental & Public Health Consulting and GreenBlue as an initiative of the Cancer-Free Economy Network, a growing collaboration of 50+ organizations working together in aligned, cross-sector projects to eliminate toxic chemicals associated with cancer and other chronic diseases, to create two fact sheets explaining the hazards of PFAS and how to avoid them when purchasing food service ware.
What are PFAS?
Chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances ("PFAS") constitute a class of over 3,000 fluorinated chemicals that persist in the environment for a very long time. The most studied chemicals in the class, PFOA and PFOS, have been associated with cancer, developmental toxicity, immunotoxicity, and other health effects. The vast majority of other PFAS have little to no data demonstrating their safety.
Why are they problematic?
PFAS are highly persistent, ubiquitous, and can migrate into food from packaging and food service ware. Upon disposal, PFAS can contaminate drinking water, compost, and agricultural crops.
The fact sheet further explains the Hazards of PFAS.
Where are they found?
Manufacturers of disposable food packaging and food service ware often add PFAS to impart moisture, oil, and grease resistance. PFAS are also added to fabrics, carpets, furniture, clothing, and fire-fighting foams for their non-stick, lubricating, waterproof, stain-resistant, and oil and grease resistant properties.
How can purchasers of food service ware avoid products with PFAS?
While PFAS pose alarming health risks, they could be avoided if the right precautions are taken. Purchasers should avoid molded fiber products (all of which currently contain PFAS) and select one of the available products made with an alternative material and/or coating by consulting the fact sheet and resources below. Purchasers can also avoid PFAS by purchasing durable and reusable food service ware when feasible.
Make more informed purchasing decisions: