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‘Forever Chemicals’ in Milk: EWG Tests All Negative, But More Food Testing Needed

Monday, March 30, 2020

Tests of 10 samples of supermarket milk commissioned by EWG found none contaminated with the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS – a welcome result, but more testing of milk and other foods is essential to ensure that the U.S. food supply is safe from contamination with these widespread “forever chemicals.”

In February 2019, EWG scientists purchased 10 milk samples from supermarkets in California, Virginia and Maryland to test for the presence of PFAS compounds. Exposure to PFAS is associated with changes in hormonal balance and thyroid function, weakened immune response, increased cholesterol, harm to the developing fetus and elevated risk of cancer.

Table 1. Milk Samples Purchased in February 2019

Product

Location

Organic Great Value Vitamin D Organic Whole Milk

Ellicott City, Md.

Great Value Vitamin D Milk

Ellicott City, Md.

Cloverland Farms Dairy 1% Lowfat Milk

Ellicott City, Md.

Lehigh Valley DairyPure 2% Reduced Fat Milk

Alexandria, Va

Harris Teeter Skim Milk

Alexandria, Va.

Fairlife 1% Low Fat Ultra-filtered Milk

Alexandria, Va.

Horizon Organic Vitamin D Milk

Burlingame, Calif.

Lucerne Reduced Fat Milk, 2%

Burlingame, Calif.

Clover 1% Lowfat Milk Vitamin A&D

San Mateo, Calif.

Organic Pastures Organic Whole Raw Milk Grass-Grazed

San Mateo, Calif.

All samples were analyzed by an accredited, independent laboratory for 30 different PFAS. According to the analysis, none of the chemicals was present above the detection limits.

Table 2: PFAS Chemicals Analyzed and Detection Limits

Chemical

Detection limit,
parts per trillion

PFOS

0.4

PFOA

0.3

GenX

0.5

10:2 FTSA

1.0

4:2 FTSA

1.0

6:2 FTSA

1.0

8:2 FTSA

2.0

ADONA

0.3

FOSA

0.5

N-EtFOSAA

1.0

N-MeFOSAA

1.0

PFBA

2.0

PFBS

0.3

PFDA

0.9

PFDoDA

0.3

PFDoDS

0.5

PFDS

0.6

PFHpA

0.4

PFHpS

0.4

PFHxA

0.4

PFHxDA

0.3

PFHxS

0.4

PFNA

0.4

PFNS

0.6

PFODA

0.5

PFPeA

2.0

PFPeS

0.4

PFTeDA

0.3

PFTrDA

0.4

PFUnA

0.4

PFAS contamination of milk has been reported in several dairies around the nation, including in Maine and New Mexico. In Maine, the contamination was likely due to application of tainted biosolids – treated sewage sludge used as soil conditioner – to farm land. In New Mexico, contamination was likely due to PFAS-polluted groundwater on the farm in question.

In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration tested 10 milk samples for 17 different PFAS and reported no detections above their reporting limits of 7 to 42 parts per trillion, or ppt. A lower detection and reporting limit will likely be necessary to understand fully the risk of PFAS contamination in milk, since there are concerns that the FDA’s reporting limit is too high.

In response to test results showing PFAS levels of nearly 690 ppt at a dairy in Maine, the state tested retail samples from all dairies. Sampling by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in May and June of last year found no PFAS above the reporting limit of 50 ppt in 26 milk samples collected from grocery stores. The retail samples included three farms that reported the application of biosolids.

 

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