100% of Breast Milk Samples Tested Positive for Toxic “Forever Chemicals”

A new study finding toxic chemicals in 100% of breast milk samples tested was published in Environmental Science & Technology. Scientists from Toxic-Free Future, Indiana University, the University of Washington, and Seattle Children’s Research Institute led the research, which shows that toxic PFAS (per- and polyfluorinated substances)—including new generation compounds currently in use—build up in people. Despite chemical industry assurances that current-use PFAS do not build up in people, the study finds detections of these chemicals in breast milk to be on the rise globally and doubling every four years.

Previous reports have confirmed that companies put PFAS chemicals in a wide range of everyday products, from food packaging and clothing to carpet and upholstery. States and retailers are starting to take action to restrict these chemicals in products, but federal regulations are needed to prevent the use of PFAS or other chemicals that can build up in breast milk in consumer products.

This study, the first since 2005 to analyze PFAS in breast milk from mothers in the United States, found that 50 out of 50 women tested positive for PFAS, with levels ranging from 52 parts per trillion (ppt) to more than 500 ppt. Breast milk samples were tested for 39 different PFAS, including 9 current-use compounds. Results found that both current-use and phased-out PFAS contaminate breast milk, exposing nursing infants to the effects of toxic chemicals. A total of 16 PFAS were detected with 12 found in more than 50% of the samples. The levels of PFAS that are currently in use in a wide range of products are rising in breast milk.

“We now know that babies, along with nature’s perfect food, are getting toxic PFAS that can affect their immune systems and metabolism,” explains Toxic-Free Future science director and study co-author Erika Schreder. “We shouldn’t be finding any PFAS in breast milk and our findings make it clear that broader phaseouts are needed to protect babies and young children during the most vulnerable stages of life. Moms work hard to protect their babies, but big corporations are putting these, and other toxic chemicals that can contaminate breast milk, in products when safer options are available.”

“These findings make it clear that the switch to newer PFAS over the last decade didn’t solve the problem,” explains Dr. Amina Salamova, study co-author and associate research scientist at Indiana University. “This study provides more evidence that current-use PFAS are building up in people. What this means is that we need to address the entire class of PFAS chemicals, not just legacy-use variations.”

Chemical companies make PFAS chemicals for their stain-resistant, water-repellent, and grease-proof properties. A growing body of scientific research has found links between exposures to PFAS and a wide range of health problems including a weaker immune system, cancer, increased cholesterol levels, pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, reduced fertility, and increased risk of thyroid disease. Scientists are most concerned about the cumulative impact resulting from exposures to products, contaminated drinking water, and contaminated food.

“Exposures to PFAS can weaken our immune system, making a person more vulnerable to infectious diseases,” explains Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, study co-author and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “It is especially concerning to see exposures happening through bioaccumulation in breast milk, which then exposes a nursing child during a critical period of development.”

Currently, national regulations fail to prevent PFAS from being used in most products. While federal action lags, Washington state has created a precautionary approach that aims to phase out the use of harmful chemical classes like PFAS. Under the Safer Products for Washington Act, policymakers are identifying the products resulting in exposure to harmful chemicals and will move to restrict them when safer alternatives are found. Similarly, the European Union is following a precautionary approach, moving to adopt regulations to ban any uses of PFAS that aren’t needed or can be substituted. Several states have also banned specific PFAS uses, such as in food packaging and firefighting foam, and 18 retailers, including Taco Bell and McDonald’s, have now pledged to eliminate or reduce PFAS in food packaging, which impacts more than 77,000 stores worldwide.

“If a harmful chemical can end up in breast milk due to its persistence or ability to bioaccumulate, it should be prohibited in everyday products we are constantly exposed to,” said Laurie Valeriano, executive director of Toxic-Free Future. “It’s time for more states and the federal government to follow the lead of Washington state and ban PFAS and other equally dangerous classes of chemicals in products, especially when safer alternatives are found. Prevention-based policies are critical to ending this harmful and unnecessary contamination of our most precious resources—from breast milk to drinking water.”

Some federal action is pending, with Rep. Debbie Dingell expected to re-introduce legislation to ban all PFAS in food packaging. “Rep. Dingell’s bill takes an important step forward to end a clearly unnecessary use of persistent, toxic PFAS. At the same time, Congress must take broader action to prevent the use of PFAS and other classes of harmful chemicals that can end up in breast milk,” said Liz Hitchcock, director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.

Some food retailers have taken actions that help reduce exposure to PFAS and demonstrate that alternatives are feasible. “We need swift actions from more retailers to help protect people from these toxic chemicals,” explains Mike Schade, Mind the Store campaign director. “We’ve seen more commitments than ever from retailers phasing out PFAS over the last two years, proving that change is possible and safer alternatives are accessible. Customers hold more power than they may realize—and companies are listening. Retailers like Burger King should take definitive action on PFAS and make sure their food packaging is free of harmful chemicals.”

The Mind the Store campaign and its partners have recently launched a petition to Burger King urging them to take action by committing to the elimination of PFAS in their food-packaging materials.

Dr. Sathyanarayana adds, “While we know that PFAS chemicals may be harmful, it is important to remember that breast milk provides significant benefits to newborn and child health. Breast milk is still best for newborns.”

Source: Safer Chemicals

Read also at Toxic Free Future:

Toxic Chemicals in Breast Milk – How we can solve this problem . . . . .

Video: Why Don’t We Have Baby Formula That’s As Good As Breast Milk?

Sam chats with chemist Dr. Steven Townsend, who’s trying to figure out which sugar molecules in breast milk make it so unique and difficult to recreate in the lab.

Watch video at You Tube (7:26 minutes) . . . . .

Cell-based Human Breast Milk Breakthrough

TurtleTree Labs sets to showcase the world’s first human breast milk using cell-based technology at their April 21, 2020 Future of Clean Milk launch. Coming off from a successful funding round, the team has brought on world class scientists like Jonathan Loh (Winner of World Technology Award and MIT TR35 Asia Pacific Awards) to accelerate the development and commercialization of their first product: human breast milk.

This will transform the $45B infant nutrition market, which is set to grow to $103B by 2026. Human breast milk as a replacement to infant formula promises to give infants identical nutritional components like the full spectrum of oligosaccharides, fats and carbohydrates as expressed by mothers. In a strategic move, Singapore attracted 4 of the world’s 5 largest infant formula companies to have production and R&D centers in the city state.

Part of TurtleTree Lab’s strategies include robust plans for driving the business across product, strategy and operations. The team has recruited top regulatory and IP attorneys in the cell-based food industry. “We are excited to have the best teams around us that also represent the likes of Memphis Meats and Impossible foods. This enables our customers to commercially license our IP for their custom use, while keeping in line with regulatory requirements,” says Fengru Lin, CEO of TurtleTree Labs.

As Singapore imports more than 99 percent of its dairy consumption needs, it has set a major initiative to ensure food security. The initiative aims to produce 30% of its nutritional needs within the island by 2030. TurtleTree Labs is in the perfect place at the right time as government bodies like Enterprise Singapore, Singapore Food Agency, A*STAR national research institute all get behind to enable the commercialization of human breast milk. Singapore has some of the top scientists in the world and their research quality ranks well above world average. Singapore is incentivizing select companies to set up their R&D centers there by subsidizing recruitment, using it as a way to stay ahead in innovation.

As the team has grown to over 30 scientists and researchers, they are still growing rapidly with expansion to the US. “Our new office in San Francisco is important as we work with regulators and industry groups to accelerate market adoption,” says Max Rye, Chief strategist of TurtleTree Labs.

Source: PR Newswire

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BIOMILQ Has Grown The Main Components of Human Breastmilk in a Lab . . . . .