Tea Bags, Takeaways & Hot Dogs Linked to High Levels of Forever Chemicals, Study Finds

by Ella

A recent study conducted in the United States has brought attention to a potential correlation between dietary habits and increased levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly known as “forever chemicals,” found in the blood. This groundbreaking research, believed to be the first of its kind, highlights the impact of food choices and consumption environments on PFAS exposure over time.

Led by researchers in the United States, the study involved surveying over 700 individuals from two distinct groups to gather data on their dietary behaviors and PFAS blood levels. Participants were asked about the frequency of consuming various foods and beverages, ranging from dark green vegetables to tea, along with the frequency of meals eaten at home, fast food establishments, and non-fast food restaurants. The researchers hypothesized that different dining settings could affect exposure to PFAS through food packaging, a common source of contamination.


The study’s findings revealed a notable association between certain dietary factors and elevated PFAS levels. Specifically, individuals who consumed higher quantities of tea, processed meats, and meals prepared outside the home exhibited increased concentrations of PFAS in their bodies over time. Notably, heightened PFAS levels were observed in individuals with higher consumption of tea, hot dogs, and processed meats. Additionally, certain foods such as french fries and pizza were linked to elevated PFAS levels, particularly when consumed outside the home, suggesting potential contamination through packaging materials.


Hailey Hampson, the study’s lead author and a doctoral student at the Keck School of Medicine’s Division of Environmental Health, emphasized the significance of these findings. She highlighted the need to reassess traditional notions of “healthy” food in light of potential PFAS contamination. Jesse A. Goodrich, the senior author of the study and an assistant professor of population and public health sciences at the Keck School of Medicine, stressed the importance of examining how dietary changes over time may impact PFAS levels.


PFAS compounds are renowned for their persistence and adverse health effects, including hormone disruption, bone weakening, and an increased risk of diseases such as cancer and kidney disease. Termed “forever chemicals” due to their resistance to degradation, PFAS have attracted widespread attention for their prevalence in the environment. While previous research has predominantly focused on PFAS contamination in water sources, this study underscores the significance of contaminated food as a potential health hazard.


The authors of the study emphasized that their objective was not to categorize foods as “healthy” or “unhealthy” but rather to identify food items requiring further investigation to monitor potential contamination sources. These findings underscore the importance of thorough dietary assessments and heightened awareness in addressing PFAS exposure risks associated with food consumption.



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