Compostable packaging is often seen as an eco-friendly solution to plastic waste. However, a recent study has revealed that it may contain “forever chemicals” linked to health problems.

A peer-reviewed study has found that a group of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), called “fluorotelomers”, which are used as a safe replacement for the toxic first generation of PFAS compounds, can break off and end up in food and drinks, presenting a health threat.

The chemicals are used in paper wrappers, bags, plates, cups and other food packaging to repel water and grease that could deteriorate products. PFAS are linked to cancer, liver problems, thyroid issues, birth defects, kidney disease and decreased immunity, among other serious health problems.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reached a voluntary agreement with packaging producers to phase out the use of fluorotelomers in food packaging over the next five years.

However, the study’s authors suggest that some products may still contain PFAS as a by-product of the use of another group of PFAS called “fluoropolymers.”

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