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Researchers at the University of Toronto have found that chemicals designed to keep grease from leaking through fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags are seeping into our food and showing up people’s blood.

The chemicals, called perfluoroalkyls, are what give the wrappers their grease-proof coating. They’re often also used to treat carpets and clothing.

The study is published today in the journal "Environmental Health Perspectives," published by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Regulators have made three assumptions, said [environmental chemist Scott] Mabury, releasing the results of his 2007 study. "That the chemicals wouldn’t move off paper into food, they wouldn’t become available to the body and the body wouldn’t process them. They were wrong on all three counts." –commondreams.org

So what’s bad about these chemicals getting into our blood? Studies on rats and mice have linked them to changes in sex hormones and cholesterol, as well as delayed development and even early death. Long-term perfluoroalkyl ingestion has also caused tumors in rats.

While researchers cannot be sure that these chemicals have the same effect on people that they do on rats and mice, they also cannot be sure that they don’t. If there weren’t already enough reasons to avoid eating fast food and microwave popcorn, now there are.

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