200 scientists sign consensus asking for PFCs in food packaging to be phased out

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Picture credit: Greenspec.co.uk
Picture credit: Greenspec.co.uk
Over 200 scientists from 38 countries have signed a consensus statement asking for PFCs in food packaging to be phased out, according to The Green Science Policy Institute.

PFCs or PFASs are fluorinated chemicals known as C8 and The Madrid Statement is calling for them to be replaced with safer alternatives.

International Symposium on Persistent Organic Pollutants

Infographic_Highly Fluorinated Chemicals

Dr. Arlene Blum, PhD, Green Science Policy Institute, told FoodProductionDaily, the document has 14 co-authors and was first presented at the International Symposium on Persistent Organic Pollutants, Dioxin 2014 in Madrid, Spain.

By raising awareness among various industries and the public about the extreme persistence and potential for human health harm of highly fluorinated chemicals, we hope to reduce their use in consumer products​,” she said.

Highly fluorinated chemicals can make consumer products stain-resistant, non-stick, or waterproof. They can persist for thousands of years in the environment, which means future generations will continue to be exposed via contaminated water, air, and food​.

The consensus statement will be printed in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) a peer-reviewed scientific journal this week​.”

The Green Science Policy Institute is a non-profit organization that encourages responsible use of chemicals to protect human and ecological health.

Improve methods for testing the safety of alternatives

It educates and builds partnerships among scientists, regulators, businesses, and public interest groups to develop alternatives for reducing harmful chemicals in products.

According to Blum, initial efforts to estimate the overall emissions of PFASs into the environment are limited due to uncertainties related to product formulations, quantities of production, production locations, efficiency of emission controls, and long-term trends in production history.

She added the technical capacity to destroy PFASs is insufficient in many parts of the world.

The Madrid Statement is calling for the following action to be taken; in collaboration with industry and governments, a global inventory of all PFASs in use or in the environment.

To continue investigating the mechanisms of toxicity and exposure (e.g., sources, fate, transport, and bioaccumulation of PFASs), and improve methods for testing the safety of alternatives.

Governments need to enact legislation to require only essential uses of PFASs and enforce labelling to indicate uses and develop public registries of products containing PFASs.

Chemical manufacturers need to make data on PFASs publicly available, including chemical structures, properties, and toxicology and provide the supply chain with documentation on PFASs content and safe disposal guidelines.

Disposal guidelines

Product manufacturers to stop using PFASs, where they are not essential or when safer alternatives exist and label products containing PFASs, including chemical identity and disposal guidelines.

Global action through the Montreal Protocol successfully reduced the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), allowing for the recovery of the ozone layer​,” added Blum.

However, many of the organofluorine replacements for CFCs are still of concern due to their high global warming potential. It is essential to learn from such past efforts and take measures at the international level to reduce the use of PFASs in products and prevent their replacement with fluorinated alternatives to avoid long-term harm to human health and the environment​.”

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