Grease-resistant chemicals in pizza boxes contain chemicals that can be dangerous. Photo: Colourbox
New research from the University of Southern Denmark and the children’s health project Odense Child Cohort has shown that everyday chemicals can significantly increase the risk of spontaneous miscarriage.
Researchers studied 392 pregnant woman including 56 who experienced a miscarriage. They found that those who miscarried had higher levels of endocrine-disrupting polyflourinated alcylated substances (PFAS) than those who carried their babies to term.
PFAS are found in numerous everyday products including pizza boxes, furniture and rain and sports clothing. The study looked particularly at the women's exposure to perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) and perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA).
According to Claus Jørgensen from the consumer advocacy group Forbrugerrådet Tænk Kemi, the chemicals found in food packaging are particularly dangerous.
“It is packaging we use for food that is treated with fluorinated substances because it needs to be resistant to water and grease – for example, wax paper, pizza boxes and popcorn bags. It is particularly here that these fluorinated substances can get into the food and in that way expose us to them. The problem is that they build up in the body and never really leave again,” Jørgensen told Fyens Stiftstidende.
Tina Kold Jensen, the research leader at the Odense Child Cohort, said the chemicals are extremely hard to avoid.
“These chemicals are often not listed because they aren’t in the food itself but in the packaging of fast coat or in coating of running clothes,” she told broadcaster DR.
“We need to find out if these chemicals are dangerous. If they are, we need to have some legislation. It can’t be up to the individual consumer,” she added.
The environment minister, Kirsten Brosbøl, said hat she has asked the Danish Environment Protection Agency (Miljøstyrelsen) to take a closer look at the new research from Odense.
“My clear goal is that we should have fewer dangerous chemicals in our daily lives,” she told Fyens Stiftstidende.
In addition to increasing the likelihood of miscarriage, the researchers also fear that PFAS in everyday products may also lower sperm quality in men.
More about the research project can be found here (in English).