McDonalds has announced that it will phase out the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging by 2025.
Fast food packaging is commonly treated with PFAS to resist water and grease. These paper products include burger wrappers, french fry boxes, cookie bags, and cardboard clamshell boxes for chicken nuggets and BigMacs.
The problem is that PFAS chemicals take thousands of years to break down in the environment. They also accumulate in the human body, which is why 99% of Americans have PFAS in their bloodstream.
Even low levels of PFAS in the body are linked to cancer, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, pre-eclampsia, and other life-threatening diseases.
Despite a nationwide movement to restrict the use of PFAS chemicals, the Trump administration actually weakened safety standards, overruled scientists, and failed to set any federal rules regarding PFAS chemicals in drinking water.
Each state has its own safety standards for PFAS. In recent years, some states have started to test municipal drinking water systems and private wells for PFAS chemical contamination.
For example, state officials in Michigan discovered dangerously high levels of PFAS in groundwater near Rockford, where a footwear company dumped the chemicals into unlined landfills.
And in Wisconsin, a fire training facility recently paid a $17 million settlement to hundreds of homeowners whose private wells were contaminated with PFAS chemicals from “firefighting foam” runoff.