Nearly ALL children have toxic levels of controversial plastics in their urine and faeces – including one substance thought to cause cancer
- Scientists looked for 15 ‘plastic byproducts’ in the waste of 2,500 children
- Eleven of the 15 substances were found in 97-to-100% of the samples
- One was PFOA, which has been linked to cancer in animal studies
Nearly all children have toxic levels of plastic in their urine and faeces, research suggests.
German scientists looked for 15 ‘plastic byproducts’ in the waste of 2,500 children, aged between three and 17.
Results showed 11 of the 15 substances – one of which is thought to cause cancer – were in 97 to 100 per cent of the samples.
Levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) exceeded safe limits in 20 per cent of the samples, particularly among the younger children.
The chemical is used in the production of outdoor clothing and non-stick pans, and has been linked to cancer in animal studies.
The scientists, at the German Environment Ministry and the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, worry growing children are the ‘most sensitive group’.
Nearly all children have toxic levels of microplastics in their urine and faeces (stock)
‘Our study clearly shows increasingly used plastic ingredients also occur more frequently inside the body,’ said study author Dr Marike Kolossa-Gehring, from the ministry.
‘Most troubling is the fact the youngest children, the most sensitive group, are affected the most.’
The researchers analysed the urine and stool samples of children aged between three and 17, Spiegel Online reported.
Most of the 15 byproducts they looked for have not been named. The team noted some of these chemicals do not have ‘health critical limits’ in Germany.
Two of those that have had safe limits set by the government were exceeded in the samples analysed.
The full results of the study have not yet been reported. The German government released preliminary results in response to a request from The Greens political party.
The scientists now plan to study exactly how these byproducts enter the body.
Previous studies suggest microscopic chemicals in non-stick pans can break off and enter the food chain.
ARE CHEMICALS IN NON-STICK PANS DANGEROUS?
Chemicals used in non-stick pans have increased tumours in the liver, pancreas and testicles of labortatory animals, as well as reducing their fertility.
Other possible risks include weight gain, hormonal changes, thyroid disruption, low birth weight and inflammatory bowel disease.
Humans may be exposed to such chemicals, known as PFOAs, when pans are overheated or scratched.
When such pans are thrown away, they may leach chemicals into landfill sites that could enter water and food chains.
Other chemical sources include clothing and carpets.
Yet, many food manufacturers argue PFOAs extend produce’s shelf life and quality, making it safer.
Bettina Hoffmann, environmental health expert of The Greens, is calling on the German government to do ‘everything in its power to protect people from harmful chemicals’.
She worries dangerous chemicals are being banned only to be replaced with substances that are equally as harmful.
Public Health England states PFOA is ‘readily absorbed’ following digestion. It is then ‘very slowly eliminated from the body’.
The body adds there is ‘insufficient data available on toxicity in humans to draw conclusions’.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, has classified PFOA as being ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’.
The EU announced in June last year it will be regulating PFOA more strictly.
The chemical has been classified as toxic to reproduction and is on the Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern since June 2013.
Denmark announced earlier this month it will be the first country to ban polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging.
PFAS is a class of chemicals that include PFOA.
Denmark’s food minister Mogens Jensen said: ‘These substances represent such a health problem that we can no longer wait for the EU.’
In the US, a bill proposing to ban PFAS in food-contact materials, like packaging, was introduced in the House of Representatives in May.
No action has been taken since the bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on May 17.
PFOA is banned from fire-fighting foam in Washington state, with PFAS also being prohibited in the region’s fast-food restaurants.
New Jersey has suggested placing limits on the amount of PFOAs permitted in water to 13-to-14 parts per trillion.
Manufacturers often argue PFAS extends a product’s shelf life and quality, making it safer.