High levels of toxic ‘forever chemicals’ found in so-called ‘green’ food packaging

March 28, 2023 by Kiran Champatsingh

Professor Miriam Diamond's research on PFAS in Canadian fast food packaging was featured in the Toronto Star article High levels of toxic ‘forever chemicals’ found in so-called ‘green’ food packaging used across Canada. An excerpt from the article appears below: 

What do compostable burrito bowls, pastry containers and paper popcorn bags all have in common?

Aside from being marketed as “good for the environment,” each has been found to carry high levels of toxic, long-lived chemicals called PFAS — or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — according to the first study of its kind in Canada.

The research, published Tuesday morning in journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, analyzed 42 different samples of compostable fast food packaging sourced from restaurants in Toronto. Traces of PFAS were detected in just under half the samples, with 26 per cent containing what were considered high levels of the compounds.

Although sourced from Toronto, the same types of food packaging could be found in use across Canada, the researchers say. One of the authors called the finding “really disturbing,” especially given the numerous studies that found “population-wide health effects” linked to PFAS consumption in Canada.

“The industry is already moving away from (PFAS) use,” said Miriam Diamond, the study’s principal investigator and a professor researching environment contaminants at the University of Toronto. The U.S. and EU recently passed legislation limiting its use, but Canada says it’s still researching the issue.

“Our study, to be blunt, is intended to give the industry a bit more impetus to move faster,” she told the Star.

Read the full article.

Read the A&S News Article The bottom line is, there’s too much PFAS in the world’: Tackling the persistent problem of ‘forever chemicals