Scientists Warn of Chemicals in Pizza Boxes, Carpet Care

Common 'PFAS' come under new scrutiny
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2015 5:55 PM CDT
Scientists Warn of Chemicals in Pizza Boxes, Carpet Care
PFAS help pizza boxes avoid getting soaked by grease.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A group of environmental scientists issued a warning Friday about commonly used chemicals known as PFASs. The chemicals, which go by the longer names of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl, are found in everything from pizza boxes to carpet treatments, reports the New York Times. "If you got a pastry with your coffee this morning, a PFAS substance probably even lined the waxy paper it was served on," writes Lynne Peeples at the Huffington Post. (In the case of the pizza boxes, the chemicals help prevent the boxes from getting soaked by grease.) The warning came today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, whose coverage included a statement signed by 200 scientists from 38 countries urging restrictions. (It's here, known as the Madrid Statement.)

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A previous type of PFAS, popularized by DuPont years ago in Teflon products, is no longer in use because of concerns the chemicals lingered in bodies and raised the risk of cancer. In today's warning letter, scientists warn that the replacement PFASs need far more study to make sure they're safe. “Research is needed to find safe alternatives for all current uses of PFASs,” writes Health and Human Services official Linda Birnbaum in a companion commentary piece. “The question is, should these chemicals continue to be used in consumer products in the meantime, given their persistence in the environment?” Reps from the chemical industry and DuPont in particular insist that the chemicals are safe. (A recent study found that many diet supplements include an amphetamine-like chemical.)

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