Statement: North Carolina Environmental Leaders to Congress: “It’s time to phase out PFAS”

Environment North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina – Local environmental health leaders and activists gathered at Lake Raleigh Friday morning to urge North Carolina Senators Burr and Tillis to support efforts to ban PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), a highly toxic class of chemicals, from food packaging across the country.

“PFAS is a dangerous class of chemicals that has been linked to health impacts from cancer to immune suppression,” said Sarah Hunkins, organizing in support of Toxic-Free Future. “North Carolina Senators Burr and Tillis have an opportunity to protect their constituents’ health and environment by supporting a national ban on PFAS in food packaging.”

Seven states have already banned PFAS from food packaging, and 18 food retailers, including, Chipotle, McDonald’s, Trader Joe’s, Wendy’s, and Whole Foods Market have announced steps to reduce or eliminate PFAS in food packaging in over 77,000 stores. In just the last few weeks, hundreds of North Carolinians and dozens of small businesses across the state have joined the effort. 

“The Haw River watershed has been a dumping ground for PFAS compounds through industrial processes,” said Emily Sutton, Riverkeeper at Haw River Assembly. “We all deserve clean and safe water, and the only way to achieve that is to eliminate these toxic chemicals from the source. It is time for Congress to act to end the use of PFAS in products, starting with food packaging.”

Testing has shown that nearly two-thirds of paper take-out containers have been treated with PFAS chemicals. Two recent studies have highlighted the concern of PFAS in breast milk and found that the only U.S. chemical manufacturer of PFAS for food packaging is contributing to the climate crisis.

“PFAS can be found in items ranging from raincoats and makeup to take-out containers from restaurants,” said Krista Early, Advocate with Environment North Carolina. “The good news is that we know the solutions, we have the alternatives, and a critical first step is banning PFAS in food packaging.”

Mia Adcock, an NC State student from Ocean Isle, North Carolina, grew up with PFAS contaminating her community’s water. “Nearly 100% of people in the US have toxic chemicals like PFAS in their bodies, and some communities like my hometown of Ocean Isle bear an even greater burden,” she said. “Our elected leaders have a responsibility to protect the safety of North Carolina’s drinking water, wildlife, and communities.”