Excerpt: Americans love fast food, but the materials used to serve short-order fare may contain harmful synthetic chemicals, a new study has found. Previous research has shown these chemicals can leach into food.
Paper products used to serve fried chicken, French fries, burritos, donuts, and other fast food contain chemicals that resist heat and grease and have been linked to diverse health risks, according to a study published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters. The study did not determine whether the chemicals leached into food samples, but other studies have shown the chemicals are especially likely to get into food if it’s hot and greasy.
These synthetic chemicals resist oil, water, heat, and stains, thanks to super-strong fluorine-carbon bonds. That’s made them valuable ingredients in a diverse array of products, including outdoor gear, carpets, furniture, firefighting foams, cosmetics, dental floss, microwave popcorn bags, and non-stick cookware. And the hardy bonds don’t break down easily in the environment, either. Scientists have found these chemicals, called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), most everywhere they’ve looked, including in the tissue of animals like polar bears that are far removed from places the chemicals are produced or used. National studies have detected them in nearly every American tested.