Fumigants and Fast Food Packaging Are a Source of Toxic Fluoride

February 15, 2017 | 65,084 views

By Dr. Mercola

One of the most common sources of fluoride exposure for Americans is their tap water, as many municipalities still fluoridate their water. But did you know your FOOD may also expose you to fluoride on a regular basis?

Not only are certain pesticides fluoridated, such as cryolite,1 food processors may also use sulfuryl fluoride as a direct fumigant on certain foods, and for preventing pests in closed storage structures. Fast food wrappers are yet another source of fluoride, scientists warn.

Pesticides and Fumigants May Turn Food Into Source of Fluoride

Sulfuryl fluoride, a commonly used fumigant, breaks down to fluoride after application.2 As noted by Fluoridealert.org:3

“Unlike virtually every other western country, the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] does not require that food processors remove food prior to the fumigation. As a result, any food that is being stored in the facility during a structural fumigation will be contaminated with fluoride.”

According to EPA estimates, foods most commonly fumigated include cocoa powder (100 percent), dried beans (100 percent), walnuts (99 percent) and dried fruits (69 percent).

And, while only about 3 percent of rice is fumigated, the levels of fluoride in fumigated brown rice specifically tends to be the highest (12.5 parts per million [ppm] compared to 8.4 ppm for cocoa powder).4

The reason certain items, such as cocoa, have a 100 percent chance of being contaminated with fluoride is because the EPA allows direct application of sulfuryl fluoride on such crops.

Direct application is also permitted on coffee. According to a 2005 editorial by the late Albert Burgstahler, PH.D., who was a professor emeritus of chemistry, “Fluoride residues in food fumigated with sulfuryl fluoride are excessively high and are at levels known to cause serious adverse health effects, including crippling skeletal fluorosis.”5

Non-organic grape juice is also best avoided, as the fluoridated pesticide cryolite is commonly used on grapes grown in the U.S.6

Fast Food Wrappers Are a Common Source of Fluoride Exposure

According to recent research,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15 about one-third of fast food wrappers and containers also contain fluorine, which suggests perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) were used to give the paper that slick surface, making it oil and grease resistant.

PFCs such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, widely used to make non-stick cookware) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS, a key ingredient in stain-resistant fabrics) are associated with a wide array of health problems, including cancer, heart disease, immune and thyroid dysfunction, infertility, low birth weight and developmental problems.

In all, some 400 samples of food packaging from 27 fast food chains in the U.S. were tested between 2014 and 2015. This included packaging from Jimmy John’s, Quiznos, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts in the Boston, Seattle, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Grand Rapids areas.

On average, 33 percent of them contained fluorine. Dessert and bread wrappers were affected the most, with 56 percent containing fluorine, whereas only 20 percent of paperboard samples (such as pizza boxes and French fry containers) were affected.

Of the 27 restaurant chains, Jimmy John’s, Taco Time and Quiznos fared the worst, with 100 percent of the samples collected from these chains testing positive for fluorine.

Eighty percent of wrappers from Chick-fil-A also tested positive, followed by Chipotle, at 65 percent.16

PFOA and PFOS Were Phased Out in 2011 but Still Appear in Use

Previous research17,18,19 has confirmed that fluorinated chemicals can indeed migrate from the packaging into the food.

The amount depends on the temperature of the food and how long it remains in contact with the wrapper. As a general rule, hot food items tend to release more chemicals than cold ones.

American manufacturers voluntarily agreed to phase out PFOA and PFOS in 2011 due to concerns about their safety, but other countries still use them and, clearly, some companies are still using them in the production of food packaging.

Dr. Philippe Grandjean, an environmental health researcher and professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, commented on the findings, saying:

“Perfluorinated compounds come from a variety of consumer products, and clearly the food wrapping materials likely constitute an important source. Limiting our current exposures should be regarded a public health priority.”

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