Directly Fluorinated Containers as a Source of Perfluoroalkyl Carboxylic Acids

Scientists have found that fluorinated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic containers—used for household cleaners, pesticides, personal care products and, potentially, food packaging—tested positive for PFAS. Direct fluorination of plastics is performed to impart chemical resistance via exposure of polyethylene to fluorine gas to produce a fluorine-modified surface layer. Leaching experiments were performed on a directly fluorinated container under various conditions and with different matrices, including foodstuffs. A subset of samples subjected to leaching at elevated temperatures generated sums of PFAS concentrations up to 830% higher. An estimate for PFAS released into food ranged from 0.77 to 2.68 ng/kg body weight per week, showing ingestion of food stored in these containers could be a significant source of exposure. Based on the large number of applications where directly fluorinated containers find use, the observation of PFAS migration suggests use regulations are warranted, and future studies should explore their fate when disposed or recycled.

With current plastic production and the growing problem of global plastic pollution, an increase and improvement in plastic recycling is needed. There is limited knowledge or assessment of microplastic pollution from point sources such as plastic recycling facilities globally. This pilot study investigates microplastic pollution from a mixed plastics recycling facility in the UK to advance current quantitative understanding of microplastic (MP) pollution release from a plastic recycling facility to receiving waters. Raw recycling wash water were estimate to contain microplastic counts between 5.97 106 – 1.12 × 108 MP m−3 (following fluorescence microscopy analysis). The microplastic pollution mitigation (filtration installed) was found to remove the majority of microplastics >5µm, with high removal efficiencies for microplastics >40µm. Microplastics <5µm were generally not removed by the filtration and subsequently discharged, with 59-1184 tonnes potentially discharged annually. It is recommended that additional filtration to remove the smaller microplastics prior to wash discharge is incorporated in the wash water management. Evidence of microplastic wash water pollution suggest it may be important to integrate microplastics into water quality regulations. Further studies should be conducted to increase knowledge of microplastic pollution from plastic recycling processes.

Oil and gas production is one of the largest emitters of methane, a potent greenhouse gas and a significant contributor of air pollution emissions. While research on methane emissions from oil and gas production has grown rapidly, there is comparatively limited information on the distribution of impacts of this sector on air quality and associated health impacts. Understanding the contribution of air quality and health impacts of oil and gas can be useful for designing mitigation strategies. In this study, researchers assess air quality and human health impacts associated with ozone, fine particulate matter, and nitrogen dioxide from the oil and gas sector in the US in 2016, and compare this impact with that of the associated methane emissions.

The study finds air pollution in 2016 from the oil and gas sector in the US resulted in 410,000 asthma exacerbations, 2,200 new cases of childhood asthma and 7,500 excess deaths, with $77 billion in total health impacts. NO2 was the highest contributor to health impacts (37%) followed by ozone (35%), and then PM2.5 (28%). When monetized, these air quality health impacts of oil and gas production exceeded estimated climate impact costs from methane leakage by a factor of 3. These impacts add to the total life cycle impacts of oil and gas, and represent potential additional health benefits of strategies that reduce consumption of oil and gas. Policies to reduce oil and gas production emissions will lead to additional and significant health benefits from co-pollutant reductions that are not currently quantified or monetized.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are exogenous substances able to mimic or to interfere with the endocrine system, thus altering key biological processes such as organ development, reproduction, immunity, metabolism and behavior. High concentrations of EDCs are found in several everyday products including plastic bottles and food containers and they could be easily absorbed by dietary intake. Scientists find that EDCs could cause and/or contribute to the onset of severe gestational conditions as Preeclampsia (PE), Fetal Growth Restriction (FGR) and gestational diabetes in pregnancy, as well as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular complications in reproductive age. Scientists recommend actions aimed at reducing or eliminating EDC exposure during the perinatal period are mandatory to guarantee pregnancy success and preserve fetal and adult health.

The Safer Consumer Products Program of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), California Environmental Protection Agency, summarizes information from its 2023 call-in on the health effects of nail products.

DTSC has been evaluating nail products for more than ten years based on concerns that nail salon workers, salon patrons, and nail product consumers – including women of childbearing age and pregnant women – may be exposed to harmful chemicals in nail products and may experience significant adverse health impacts. This report summarizes the information reported to DTSC by those nail product
stakeholders that responded to the information call-in request.