‘Forever Chemicals’ Present in 95 Percent of Strawberries

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Strawberries, grapes, and many other fruits and vegetables grown in Britain have been found to contain per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAs.

Strawberries, grapes, and many other fruits and vegetables have been found to contain chemicals derived from pesticides that campaigners say can take centuries to break down in the environment.

Known as “forever chemicals,” per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) were identified in a range of foods in 2022 by government tests which have been analysed by the Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK).

There are now more than 10,000 variations of PFAs, which are used in hundreds of products from waterproof cosmetics and stain repellents, to carpeting and non-stick cookware.

PAN UK analysed government test results and found PFAs had been located in 95 percent of samples of strawberries, 61 percent of grape samples, and 38 percent of tomatoes.

PFAs were also found in high concentrations in cherries and spinach.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has an advisory committee on pesticide residues, which tested more than 3,300 samples of food and drink available in the UK supply chain in 2022.

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It was looking for residues from 401 pesticides which are sprayed on crops.

It found peaches, cucumbers, apricots, and beans all contained PFAs in at least 15 percent of samples.

But the Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food report said 56.4 percent of samples contained pesticide residue but it was below the maximum residue level (MRL) allowed by law in food.

‘Consumers Left With No Choice But to Ingest These Chemicals’

Nick Mole from PAN UK said, “Given the growing body of evidence linking PFAs to serious diseases such as cancer, it is deeply worrying that UK consumers are being left with no choice but to ingest these chemicals, some of which may remain in their bodies long into the future.”

“We urgently need to develop a better understanding of the health risks associated with ingesting these ‘forever chemicals’ and do everything we can to exclude them from the food chain,” he added.

PAN UK is calling on the government to ban 25 PFA pesticides currently in use in Britain, six of which are classified as “highly hazardous.”

PAN UK said MRLs do not take into account other routes of potential PFA exposure, such as plastic food packaging, drinking water, and a wide range of household products.

In 2004 DuPont agreed to an out-of-court settlement to a class action lawsuit brought by 50,000 residents who lived near a factory in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where it produced perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a key ingredient in Teflon.

The residents claimed PFOA had contaminated the local water supply, leading to birth defects and other health hazards.

Last year chemical manufacturer 3M reached a $10.3 billion settlement with several U.S. public drinking water systems to resolve allegations of contamination from “forever chemicals.”

Concerns have been raised around the world about PFAs, which studies have linked to significant health problems including cancers, hormone disruptions, immune system problems, and liver disease.

Cassie Barker, the toxics program manager at Environmental Defence, told Canada’s environment committee the chemicals have one of the strongest bonds in organic chemistry, making it nearly impossible for them to break down.

In May 2023 Health Canada issued a draft recommendation, following a scientific review of available evidence, that said the science meets the requirement to label PFAS as toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

New Research From Australia Published

On Monday, the University of New South Wales in Australia published research that found PFAs were found in surface and ground water around the globe.

The researchers said, “They’ve been linked to environmental and health issues, including some cancers, but a lot remains unknown about the true scale and potential impacts of the problem.”

Shubhi Sharma from Chem Trust, which campaigns to protect humans and animals from harmful chemicals, said, “PFAs are a group of entirely human-made chemicals that didn’t exist on the planet a century ago and have now contaminated every single corner.”

The Epoch Times has contacted Defra for comment.

PA Media contributed to this report.

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