The report features “some striking and surprising concerns about the lack of attention that these chemicals have received by regulatory agencies,” said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, director of the Division of Environmental Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine and lead author of the statement and report.
“Pound for pound, children eat more food and therefore have a higher level of exposure compared to us adults,” Trasande said. “In addition, their developing organ systems are uniquely vulnerable. …There can be fundamental disruptions in various endocrine functions that can manifest not only in early childhood but potentially in later life as a result of prenatal or infant exposure.”
Experts fear that these chemicals may have a range of side effects including thyroid hormone disruption, endocrine disruption that involves mimicking estrogen and blocking testosterone, brain development effects, increased risk of obesity and decreased birth weight.
“It’s not simply calories in, calories out,” Trasande said. “That used to be a convenient framework for thinking about obesity, but now we know that synthetic chemicals disrupt how calories are processed and ultimately converted into protein vs. sugar vs. fat.
“Even at a basic level, we understand that thyroid hormone is not only important for brain development but also heart function, bone function, muscle,” he added. “Practically every organ system is touched by thyroid hormone function.”
“Consumers want to know that the products they purchase — including packaged foods — will perform as expected, provide the desired benefit and are safe for their families. Plastics packaging is critical to protecting the quality and integrity of food, and to help in the safe transportation and storage of food.”
There are three arms of action on this issue, Trasande explained. One is broader social action in which the public demands a change, the second is what pediatricians can do, and the third is what regulators can adjust to ensure safety.
The academy has urged the government to revise its Generally Recognized As Safe process, making it more transparent and mandating additional tests for toxicity before approving chemicals to be used in food items.
“There are safe and simple steps that families can take to limit their exposure: reducing canned food consumption, avoiding microwaving plastic,” Trasande said. “This is also another opportunity to emphasize the need for fresh fruit and vegetable consumption as opposed to other highly processed or packaged foods. Not only because of the nutrients and how they differ but also because of the chemical contamination that is much greater … in fast food and other packaged foods.”
When possible, glass and stainless steel can be used instead of plastic. The academy also suggests washing hands before handling food and drinks, and washing fruits and vegetables that can’t be peeled.
News credit : Cnn