Concerning levels of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) have been detected in food packaging materials in a study spanning 17 countries. PFAS – a class of human-made chemicals infamous for their impact on fertility, risk of various types of cancer, weakening of the immune system, hormonal functions, and more – were found in 54% of the tested samples.

These were the results of a recent global study led by the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), where the Center for Public Health and Environmental Development (CEPHED) studied the samples from Nepal.

11.1% of samples from Nepal exceeded the European Union standards by more than three times. This included a plate from India’s Shri Surbhi Polymers Pvt. Ltd., purchased from Nepali retail chain Bhatbhateni, containing 80.5 nanograms/gram of PFAS. For comparison, the maximum recommended amount is said to be around 20 nanograms/gram.

Ironically, PFAS were found even in products labeled as 100% compostable and biodegradable.

Also known as “forever chemicals,” they do not break down in the natural environment nor inside human bodies and their contamination can last thousands of years.

CEPHED stresses the necessity for the Nepalese government to establish a regulatory framework for monitoring materials in production, import, distribution, and packaging, as well as the importance of consumer education considering the grave risk to both health and the environment.