Ann Arbor Legislators Propose Ban on Use of Toxic PFAS Chemicals in Food Packaging

LANSING, Mich. — On Saturday, Aug. 15, Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) introduced legislation that would ban toxic PFAS, BPA, and phthalate ‘forever chemicals’ from the manufacturing and sale of food packaging in Michigan. Senate Bill 1072 would require an annual assessment of the hazard, exposure, and cost of chemicals in food packaging and evaluate safer alternatives.

Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) is expected to introduce a similar bill in the Michigan House of Representatives today.

Recent studies have shown that several major food chains are still using toxic PFAS chemicals in their food packaging.According to Ecology Center, more than one-third of packaging from burger chains and nearly 90% of packaging tested from health-conscious chains tested positive for PFAS chemicals.

“In an analysis recently published by the Ecology Center, 67% of packaging tested was PFAS-free,” Sen. Irwin said. “The industry has already shown that there are alternatives, so now it’s time to hold them accountable because Michiganders deserve better than 67%.”

Used for their water- and grease-resistant properties, PFAS is linked to several adverse health effects including testicular cancer, high cholesterol, low infant birth weights, compromised immune systems, kidney cancer, infertility, and thyroid hormone disruption.

“Addressing the problem of these persistent contaminants in our environment will take decades, but we can act now to make sure they aren’t in direct contact with our food,” Rep. Rabhi said. “When Michiganders order takeout food to reduce the risk of exposure to infectious disease, we shouldn’t have to worry that the packaging is leaching immunosuppressants.”

Sen. Irwin argues that this issue requires urgent and aggressive attention.

“These chemicals suppress the immune system and are linked to chronic conditions that make people more vulnerable to COVID-19,” he added. “When so many Michiganders are making sacrifices to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy and COVID-free, we need to support their efforts by outlawing food packaging that attacks their immune systems.”

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