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PFAS: new safety limit established by EFSA

Their use also affects the food sector, with traces in drinking water, fruit and egg products

It has been studied that excessive exposure to these chemicals can generate harmful effects on human health. Among the most affected segment of the population are children

EFSA has established a new safety threshold for the main perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that accumulate in the body. Every human being should assume a maximum tolerable group threshold (TWI) of 4.4 nanograms per kilogram of body weight. The PFAS are a group of artificial chemicals manufactured and used by multiple industries all over the world. Among the companies that use it, there are those belonging to the textile sector, to that of household products, fire-fighting products, to the automotive, food, construction and electronics sectors. PFAS are mostly present in drinking water, fruit and egg products. It has been studied that excessive exposure to these chemicals can generate harmful effects on human health. Among the most affected section of the population are children. According to the scientists, exposure during pregnancy and breastfeeding is the main contributor to PFAS levels in infants.

In establishing DST, analysts identified the decreased response of the human immune system to vaccinations as the most critical effect on human health. A result that distances itself from EFSA's 2018 opinion on PFAS; the European Food Safety Authority had considered the increase in cholesterol to be the main critical effect.

The EFSA study focused essentially on four substances: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS). The 2018 opinion established separate DSTs for PFOS and PFOAs, but EFSA reviewed these substances taking into account today's scientific knowledge and followed the "recent guidelines for the assessment of combined exposure to multiple chemicals".

Foods can be contaminated with PFAS due to the soil or water used to grow them. Further contamination can result from the concentration of these substances in the food that animals eat, such as feed or water itself. Finally, PFAS can be transmitted through food packaging or processing equipment.

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EFA News - European Food Agency
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