Home » Alert: Everyday Chemicals Linked to Health Risks in Common Foods and Products

Alert: Everyday Chemicals Linked to Health Risks in Common Foods and Products

by Richard A Reagan

Recent findings have ignited concerns over the presence of harmful synthetic chemicals in everyday items—from the tea in your cup to the plastic container holding your lunch. Studies are revealing alarming connections between these chemicals and serious health issues, pressing consumers and regulatory bodies to take notice. [Source]

A study supported by the National Institutes of Health and published in Lancet Planetary Health identifies phthalates, particularly Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), as significant contributors to the rising number of preterm births in the United States. 

“In our new study, we found DEHP and three similar chemicals could be responsible for 5% to 10% of all the preterm births in 2018, ” Leonardo Trasande, director of environmental pediatrics at NYU Langone Health, reported to CNN.

Trasande added, “Phthalates can also contribute to inflammation that can disrupt the placenta even more and set the steps of preterm labor in motion.” 

This finding puts a spotlight on the widespread use of phthalates in food packaging and its potential impact on maternal and infant health.

Concurrently, research from the Keck School of Medicine of USC has drawn a direct line between dietary consumption of certain foods and increased levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the body.

Known as “forever chemicals” for their persistent nature, PFAS are found in numerous household products, including nonstick cookware and water-resistant fabrics. [Source]

“This is the first study to examine how dietary factors are associated with changes in PFAS over time,” noted Jesse A. Goodrich, PhD, assistant professor of population and public health sciences at Keck. [Source]

The implications of these findings extend beyond individual health concerns, hinting at a larger environmental and regulatory challenge.

Despite the American Chemistry Council’s stance that phthalates vary significantly in their toxicity and function, the associated health risks—ranging from cancer and infertility to obesity—underscore the need for a reevaluation of chemical use in consumer products.

Efforts to mitigate exposure to these harmful chemicals are underway, with recent legislative initiatives in California requiring food packaging manufacturers to disclose PFAS content. However, experts like Dr. Trasande advocate for broader regulatory action, emphasizing the economic and health costs burdening the U.S. due to phthalate-related diseases.

This calls for a collective effort to demand safer products and practices, to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals, and to advocate for policies that protect public health and the environment. 

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