(TMU) — Chemicals linked to cancer have been found in food products like milk, meat, produce, and store-bought chocolate cake, according to study findings presented at a scientific conference in Helsinki, Finland last week.
The study’s findings, which have not been publicly released in the United States, were presented by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the conference and leaked by environmental organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund and Environmental Working Group.
The FDA has confirmed the contents of the leaked report, stating they plan to release the findings of the study publicly.
“I’m not sure why they released it there and not in the U.S., but I’m just glad it’s out,” said Tom Neltner, chemicals policy director from the Environmental Defense Fund.
Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs for the Environmental Working Group said it’s “troubling that Americans had to go all the way to Helsinki to know what scientists have known for many years.”
The chemicals in question are a harmful class of chemicals often referred to as PFAS. The Mind Unleashed has previously reported on these potentially deadly chemicals that exist in the drinking water of 19 million Americans, across 43 U.S. states.
PFAS are widely referred to as “forever chemicals” thanks to their durability and inability to breakdown. While this may seem useful for household products like food packaging, nonstick cookware, textiles, leather, paper goods, paint and more, it isn’t good when they cannot break down inside a body or in the environment.
While researchers have been aware of the risk of contamination of water around sites like military bases, airports, industrial plants, garbage dumps and firefighter training areas, it was unclear until now if and to what extent PFAS have been entering our food supply.
According to the FDA’s research, the contaminated water present in 43 U.S. states is ending up in the food supply. In fact, 14 of 91 samples tested by the FDA contained PFAS including almost half of all of the meat and seafood the agency tested.
While many Americans purchase local, home—or small farm—grown produce in an effort to access seemingly healthier foods than those available in conventional chain stores, it turns out that produce sold at a farmer’s market 10 miles from a facility producing PFAS was found to contain the chemical. And in New Mexico, contaminated water from an Air Force base made its way to a nearby ranch, where the cows drank the water, resulting in milk contaminated with PFAS.
“It would take approximately 1.5 years to eliminate PFOS from the cow after a 30-day exposure period,” the study said.
While the FDA’s study claims the positive tests were “not likely to be a safety concern,” critics feel differently.
“They just assume all these are one-off isolated incidents, but there’s cumulative exposure here that has to be considered,” Neltner said. He also said that the FDA’s study seemed to focus more on the potential for environmental contamination rather than contamination by food packaging. Some states have gone so far as to ban food packaging made with PFAS after research showed the chemicals can transfer to food.
According to the Hill, the FDA is planning to launch a website as soon as this week that will show “comprehensive information about FDA’s work looking into PFAS and recent early, preliminary survey findings.” However, a website shared with the outlet did not contain the research presented in Helsinki.
Thanks to the work of some of the very same groups that leaked the FDA’s research, there is growing awareness and concern about PFAS on Capitol Hill. In fact, the Hill reports that “more bills dealing with the chemicals have been introduced this session than in any prior year.” While the issue has bipartisan support, the EPA and the Pentagon are unsurprisingly resistant to introducing regulations on the harmful chemicals.
Hopefully the United States will soon see appropriate action on PFAS at the federal level, but until then, it might be best to avoid store-bought chocolate cake after the FDA’s tests revealed it can contain 250 times the PFAS levels the EPA recommends for drinking water.
Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People
The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.
Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.
Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.
Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.
Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.
“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”
However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.
In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”
“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”
Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say
With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.
According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.
The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.
The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.
While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.
Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.
“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.
“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.
Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced
However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.
Visualizing The World’s Deadliest Pandemics By Population Impact
Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.
And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, Visual Capitalist’s Carmen Ang notes that there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.
Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.
Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.
Death Toll, by Percent of Population
In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people – more than 50% of the global population at that time.
Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.
The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.
Interestingly, the plague still exists today – however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.
History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning
While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.
In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory – the idea that small organisms caused disease.
What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?
Like this? Check out the full-length article The History of Pandemics
Republished from ZH with permission.