Toxic chemicals may be leaking into your food, makeup, or health care products, study finds

Shipping containers. This is a stock photo and should not reflect the containers being used to...
Shipping containers. This is a stock photo and should not reflect the containers being used to transport goods.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 2:31 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - A recent study completed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that toxic PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances may leach from the inside coating of shipping containers into the products they contain.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) first alerted the agency to this contamination back in 2020, and now urges the EPA and other regulatory authorities to take immediate action to stop using these containers for product transportation across the country and world.

The study showed that even purified water in these containers caused PFAS to leach into the water and no corrosive solvents were necessary to do so. After just one day, the water had 103 parts-per-trillion (ppt) of PFAS from the barrels. After 20 weeks, the amount rose to 2,888 ppt.

Levels were much higher when methanol was used as a solvent, with a content up to 14,720 ppt.

“We very much appreciate EPA doing this study. It was comprehensive and yielded valuable results,” stated PEER Science Policy Director Kyla Bennett, whose earlier testing showing PFAS in insecticide that first raised alarms. “Now, EPA needs to act on this study’s results.”

Fluorinated containers are commonly used to ship food, cosmetics, fragrances, health care products, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture products such as pesticides.

While the true extent of the contamination is unknown, they have large potential impacts. PFAS do not readily breakdown in the environment and often accumulate in the environment and body.

Despite this concern, the EPA has yet to issue a mandatory recall or take any other direct action.

After the study was released, the agency released this public statement:

“In a shared interest to remove PFAS from the environment, if companies find PFAS in their products, they should notify EPA and take action to remove contaminated product.”

“Unfortunately, EPA’s pace of action on this issue is more glacial than galloping,” added Bennett, noting that EPA is slow-walking a year-old Freedom of Information Act request from PEER seeking documents indicating what the agency is doing to address the issue. “Without the threat of a regulatory cudgel, private companies have no incentive – if not a distinct disincentive – to test. EPA should require testing and immediately ban the use of fluorinated containers, especially for food products and pesticides sprayed on food.”