Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals widely used in cosmetics, vinyl floors, detergents, disposable gloves, wire covers, and—for years now—food packages. They make plastic supple and bendable, which is why they’re so ubiquitous. But they’re also linked to a risk of serious health ailments, including reproductive problems, asthma, and brain impairment in kids. The EPA estimates that nearly 500 million pounds of phthalates are produced every year, meaning most people’s bodies contain at least low levels of the compounds.
In recent years, other work by these Milken Institute researchers has identified fast food as a worrisome probable source of phthalate exposure. In 2018, for example, they looked at urine samples for some 10,000 Americans nationwide and found the ones who reported eating at fast-food restaurants were likely to have higher levels of phthalates than people who ate at home.
Their latest research, though, is the first to examine the food itself. The paper describes that they collected 64 menu items from San Antonio-area locations of McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Taco Bell, and Chipotle. The phthalate DBP was present in 81% of the items, while 70% contained DEHP. (Both of these are linked to fertility problems.) The foods with meat were the worst—chicken burritos and cheeseburgers generally had the highest concentrations of these chemicals, while cheese pizza and French fries had the lowest levels. Researchers collected the disposable gloves worn by workers too, and the chemicals also showed up in them. Finally, nearly 90% of food items contained another plasticizer (DEHT) that was invented to replace phthalates, though research hasn’t established yet whether DEHT is safer. (“It is not clear,” according to a 2018 study, “whether DEHT fits the designation of ‘acutely toxic’ under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.”)
Source : https://www.fastcompany.com/90690754/scientists-finally-measured-the-shocking-percentage-of-fast-food-that-contains-harmful-chemicals336