Story at a glance:

  • All 50 samples of breast milk from U.S. mothers had PFAS in them.
  • PFAS is a chemical found in plastic items and it has been linked to health problems.
  • There are no FDA standards for PFAS in breast milk, but as a comparison, experts at the Environmental Working Group advise drinking water at 1 ppt.

 

Some American women's breast milk is contaminated with toxic chemicals at levels that may be cause for concern, scientists note in a new study.

In a new study all 50 samples of breast milk tested positive for polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), groups of man-made chemicals that are common in most home appliances and plastic items, The Guardian reported. The levels of the chemicals were up to 2,000 times higher than the levels some public health advocates recommend is safe for drinking water, the paper noted.

PFAS compounds are sometimes called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in the environment.

“The study shows that PFAS contamination of breast milk is likely universal in the US, and that these harmful chemicals are contaminating what should be nature’s perfect food,” Erika Schreder, a co-author and science director with Toxic Free Future, said. 


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Toxic Free Future is a Seattle-based foundation that encourages the industry to make choices regarding chemicals for the sake of families and the environment.

PFAS chemicals have been linked to people developing cancer, congenital disability, liver disease, thyroid disease, falling sperm court, and other bodily failures, The Guardian noted.

The breast milk tested had levels of PFAS ranging from 50 parts per trillion (ppt) to 1,850 ppt. The study was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

There are no FDA safety standards for PFAS in breast milk, but as a comparison, The Guardian noted that experts at the Environmental Working Group advise drinking water at 1 ppt while the Department of Health and Human Services recommends as little as 14 ppt in children’s drinking water.

More than half of the samples were found to have 12 kinds of compounds and 16 compounds overall.


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Published on May 13, 2021