Study reveals association between certain foods and higher levels of PFAS in the human body

New research has shed light on the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in various foods and their impact on human health. The study, which involved analyzing samples from 3 000 pregnant mothers, suggests that individuals who consume higher amounts of white rice, coffee, eggs, and seafood tend to have higher levels of PFAS in their plasma and breast milk. 
The findings also indicate a correlation between red meat consumption and elevated levels of PFOS, one of the most prevalent and hazardous PFAS compounds. These results highlight the widespread presence of these toxic chemicals and the various pathways through which they enter the food supply.    

PFAS are a class of approximately 16 000 compounds commonly used in the production of water-resistant, stain-resistant, and heat-resistant products. Due to their persistence in the environment, they accumulate in humans and have been linked to numerous serious health issues, including cancer, birth defects, liver disease, thyroid disease, and reduced sperm counts.  
While efforts to regulate and reduce PFAS pollution in water have been the focus of many regulators, this study suggests that food is a major source of exposure. Public health advocates argue that a comprehensive ban on PFAS, except for essential uses, is necessary to address the issue effectively.    

The study also explores the potential sources of PFAS contamination in specific foods. For instance, contamination in rice may arise from tainted soil or agricultural water. Non-stick cookware often contains PFAS, and the chemicals can be transferred to food during cooking. In the case of eggs from backyard chickens, the researchers speculate that feeding the birds with table scraps or contaminated sewage sludge used as fertilizer might contribute to higher PFAS levels. Similarly, coffee beans, water used for brewing, or soil contamination could be responsible for PFAS presence in coffee. Seafood is another food category frequently found to be contaminated with PFAS due to the prevalence of water pollution.    

The study also suggests that certain dietary factors can influence PFAS levels. Diets high in fruits, whole grains, and dietary fiber were associated with lower PFAS levels. Furthermore, consuming a diverse range of protein sources can help mitigate exposure to PFAS and other contaminants found in food.    

The study's authors emphasize the importance of implementing measures to keep PFAS out of the environment and reduce their presence in food. By raising awareness of the association between specific foods and higher PFAS levels, the study aims to inform interventions and dietary guidelines that can help reduce PFAS exposure. As further research on PFAS continues, it is crucial for regulators, food producers, and consumers to work together in addressing this pervasive issue.      



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