Composting of biodegradable food containers reduces the amount of waste that reaches landfill. However, exercise can cause undesirable consequences for human health.
This is because articles often contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl or PFAS to help repellency of water and oil. These persistent chemicals can leak out of the packaging and become compost, the researchers report in letters about environmental science and technology starting May 29. Using this compost, PFAS can be taken by plants and eventually accumulates in the human body, although the health effects are still unclear.
The scientists measured perfluoroalkyl acid or PFAA, a subset of PFAS produced by microbial degradation in compost from 10 commercial sites. Seven of these facilities received food compost trays, three no. Using food containers in mixed teams, PFAA measures concentrations of about 29 to 76 micrograms per kilogram of compost as compost compost that does not accept containers less than 8 micrograms per kilogram of PFAAs compost.
“There are large differences in PFAS levels between the two groups,” said Laurel Schaider, a chemist and environmental researcher in the field of public health at the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Massachusetts, who was involved in the study. People hope that the objects they compost will be completely destroyed and become a sustainable source of plant nutrients, so they found that chemicals can be stored in products for composting, he said.
As a class, PFAS includes thousands of compounds, many of which have beneficial properties. They appear on fireproof carpets, open cooking pots, and many other places. “Everyone likes to have all these facilities, but compromises … are quite large, because [compounds] don’t work,” said Linda Li, a chemist in environmental behavior at Purdue University in West Lafayette, India. helps to break down chemicals in general, but for this constant flow, organisms usually convert agents into other PFAS.
Carbon chains form the basis of PFAS, where fluorine atoms are bound. Lee and colleagues found that most PFAS in compost samples had shorter chains than was known, more dalgooborudvani perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA and perfluorooktansulfonova acid or PFOS, which were omitted in the United States. Short-chain PFAS does not last long in the body like their older siblings, but it can be easier to move from organic matter to soil to water and be absorbed by plants.
Research has linked PFAS with adverse health effects, including high cholesterol, decreased fertility and birth weight, and testicular and kidney cancer, said Schaider. But only a small proportion of PFAS, including PFOS and PFOA, have been thoroughly investigated for possible health effects. Little is known about the effects of most compost samples on human health.
The researchers analyzed compost because Washington was worried it would be a mistake to leave compost from food containers. In part, based on the findings of the team, the state passed a law on healthy food packaging, which banned PFAS in paper packaging in 2022 when the country found something to replace the compound.
“This is really great research,” said Jennifer Guelfo, an environmental engineer at Texas Technical University in Labbok, who was not involved in the study. With this information that PFAS appears in compost, scientists can begin to understand what health risks can be linked to these chemicals and that all chemicals must be used in this type of packaging, he said. “Now is the time to investigate the use of these compounds … and limit their use to scenarios where they are really needed.”