PFAS “Forever Chemicals” in Supermarket Kale
The consumer advocacy non-profit, Alliance for Natural Health USA, demonstrates failings of FDA monitoring of US food supply and seeks a federal ban on PFAS chemicals
ATLANTA June 26, 2023 – The Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH-USA) today released results of a pilot study finding PFAS “forever chemicals” in kale samples purchased from grocery stores across the U.S. The study adds to mounting concerns for both human health and the environment due to the pervasive contamination of air, water, soil, and consumer products with these chemicals.
Poly- and per-fluoroalkyl substances (or PFAS) are a class of over 12,000 discrete chemicals used in an incredibly wide range of consumer and industrial applications. PFAS are highly persistent in the environment, and have been accumulating in soils, waterways, and oceans for decades. Emerging research indicates a wide range of negative health effects associated with exposure to these chemicals from infertility and developmental delays to cancer and obesity.
“Decision-makers and the public need to wake up to the public health catastrophe posed by PFAS,” said Robert Verkerk, PhD, Executive and Scientific Director of ANH-USA. “These chemicals are everywhere, even in one of the healthiest food options available at the supermarket. They make the pervasive contamination by DDT and its breakdown products look like child’s play. The sheer scope and implications of PFAS contamination demand a bold response — not the complacency we’re currently seeing from US agencies.”
To conduct the study, ANH-USA staff sent conventional and organic kale samples from supermarkets in Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia to Eurofins Laboratories Environment Testing. Each kale sample was analyzed for 16 PFAS compounds using U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) validated methods. Only one of the eight kale samples had no detectable levels of PFAS. By contrast, the FDA’s own Total Diet Study monitoring has only detected PFAS in seafood, meat and a protein powder.
In the study report, released today, ANH-USA critiques the limited actions taken by federal agencies thus far in addressing widespread PFAS contamination. The FDA and Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) testing for PFAS contamination is grossly inadequate. While the agencies acknowledge serious health concerns over PFAS contamination, the FDA’s routine monitoring between 2019 and 2021, which has so far only included analysis of 4 kale samples, has never found PFAS in any vegetable or other plant food. On its webpage, Questions and Answers on PFAS in Food, the FDA states, “To date, we have found that most foods not grown or produced in specific geographic areas with known PFAS contamination do not have detectable levels of PFAS.”
“ANH-USA’s independent testing directly disputes the FDA’s current position that the U.S. food supply is not contaminated with PFAS,” said Dr Verkerk. “The problem is that PFAS accumulate in the body and we’re exposed to them from multiple sources and routes. There’s emerging yet clear evidence they pose a serious threat, from cancer through to effects on unborn fetuses. This is a ticking time bomb that needs to be addressed right now.”
Monitoring studies increasingly demonstrate ubiquitous PFAS contamination in humans, animals, drinking water, food crops, and even the most remote areas of the Earth. PFAS accumulation in the human population has been known for over decade when the 2011-2012 cycle of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found PFAS in the blood of 97 percent of Americans. By the 2017-2018 cycle, PFAS was detected in 100 percent of those tested.
ANH-USA urges Congress and the EPA to issue a blanket ban on PFAS chemicals as an entire class.
ANH-USA’s report, an explanatory video and campaign actions on PFAS can be found at BanPFAS.org.
For more information, contact:
The Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH-USA) is dedicated to promoting natural, sustainable healthcare through good science and good law. ANH-USA protects the right of natural health practitioners to practice, and the right of consumers to choose the healthcare options and treatment modalities they prefer, including complementary and alternative medicine. ANH-USA unites consumers, practitioners, and the natural health industry to speak with a common voice, having worked since 1992 to help shift the medical paradigm from its primary focus on drugs and surgery to an “integrative” approach that seeks to optimize dietary health and lifestyle, while minimizing exposure to harmful chemicals.