U.S – A study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has uncovered a significant link between per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly known as “forever chemicals,” found in food packaging and an alarming rise in thyroid cancer cases.
The research, conducted by a team of scientists, reveals compelling evidence pointing to PFAS exposure as a potential contributor to the surge in thyroid cancer rates observed globally. With PFAS persisting in the environment and accumulating in human bodies, urgent calls for stricter regulations and widespread awareness are echoing across the scientific community.
The recent study on PFAS exposure highlights concerning findings regarding thyroid cancer risk and pervasive contamination in both the U.S. and European populations.
The research, which analyzed plasma samples from 88 thyroid cancer patients and 88 healthy individuals, revealed a significant 56 percent increase in thyroid cancer diagnosis per doubling of n-PFOS intensity, indicating a strong biological link between PFAS exposure and thyroid cancer.
Despite efforts to phase out specific PFAS chemicals like PFOS and PFOA, these contaminants persist in public drinking water systems, leading to ongoing exposure. Recent analyses by organizations such as the UK Royal Society of Chemistry and the U.S.
Recent analyses by the UK Royal Society of Chemistry and the U.S. Geological Survey have highlighted the prevalence of PFAS in water courses in England and Wales, as well as widespread contamination in nearly half of all U.S. drinking water sources.
Proposing a comprehensive plan to combat this widespread contamination, the RSC advocates for crucial reforms on multiple fronts.
Firstly, they urge a significant reduction in the current limit for individual types of PFAS in drinking water, proposing a decrease from 100 nanograms per liter (ng/L) to 10 ng/L.
Additionally, the RSC recommends the introduction of a combined limit, capping the total PFAS concentration in drinking water at 100 ng/L.
Ensuring transparency, they emphasize the necessity of reporting and recording all PFAS contamination sources across the UK in a national inventory.
Stricter regulations are also demanded concerning allowable levels of PFAS in industrial discharges, emphasizing the need for rigorous enforcement.
Lastly, the RSC underscores the importance of establishing a national chemicals regulator, strategically empowered to oversee the monitoring and regulation of all chemical contaminants, including PFAS.
Notably, two extensively researched per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), PFOA and PFOS, were discovered at or above the EPA’s minimum reporting level (MRL) during the initial sampling event in approximately 7.8–8.5 percent of the assessed public water systems (PWSs), surpassing the EPA’s Health Advisory (HA) levels.
Urgent calls have been made for comprehensive changes to drinking water standards and increased monitoring, particularly in underserved communities and private wells.
Some major foodservice brands have committed to phasing out PFAS in their packaging, signaling a positive industry response.
Additionally, regulatory steps are being taken, such as the U.S. EPA’s intention to regulate six harmful PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act and
Several U.S. states have already banned intentionally added PFAS in food packaging, emphasizing the need for stringent regulations nationwide.