Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 127 (10), 107003

Dietary Habits Related to Food Packaging and Population Exposure to PFASs


Dietary Habits Related to Food Packaging and Population Exposure to PFASs

Herbert P Susmann et al. Environ Health Perspect.


Background: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are common industrial and consumer product chemicals with widespread human exposures that have been linked to adverse health effects. PFASs are commonly detected in foods and food-contact materials (FCMs), including fast food packaging and microwave popcorn bags.

Objectives: Our goal was to investigate associations between serum PFASs and consumption of restaurant food and popcorn in a representative sample of Americans.

Methods: We analyzed 2003-2014 serum PFAS and dietary recall data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). We used multivariable linear regressions to investigate relationships between consumption of fast food, restaurant food, food eaten at home, and microwave popcorn and serum levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).

Results: Calories of food eaten at home in the past 24 h had significant inverse associations with serum levels of all five PFASs; these associations were stronger in women. Consumption of meals from fast food/pizza restaurants and other restaurants was generally associated with higher serum PFAS concentrations, based on 24-h and 7-d recall, with limited statistical significance. Consumption of popcorn was associated with significantly higher serum levels of PFOA, PFNA, PFDA, and PFOS, based on 24-h and 12-month recall, up to a 63% (95% CI: 34, 99) increase in PFDA among those who ate popcorn daily over the last 12 months.

Conclusions: Associations between serum PFAS and popcorn consumption may be a consequence of PFAS migration from microwave popcorn bags. Inverse associations between serum PFAS and food eaten at home-primarily from grocery stores-is consistent with less contact between home-prepared food and FCMs, some of which contain PFASs. The potential for FCMs to contribute to PFAS exposure, coupled with concerns about toxicity and persistence, support the use of alternatives to PFASs in FCMs.


Figure 1 is a graph plotting percentage increase in PFAS serum concentration per 100 kilocalories in last 24 hours (ranging from 0 to 9 percent in intervals of 3) (y-axis) across PFOA; PFNA; PFDA; PFHxS; PFOS; and sigma PFAS (x-axis) for fast food or pizza restaurant; other restaurant; other food outlet, eaten at home; other food outlet, not eaten at home; and popcorn.
Figure 1.
Comparison of regression coefficients from the 24-h recall regression model, based on 2003–2014 data. The “Fast food or pizza restaurant,” “Other restaurant,” “Other food outlet, eaten at home,” and “Other food outlet, not eaten at home” categories exclude kilocalories from seafood and popcorn.
Figure 2 is a graph plotting percentage increase in PFAS serum concentration per added meal in last 7 days (ranging from negative 1 to 2 percent in intervals of 1) (y-axis) across PFOA; PFNA; PFDA; PFHxS; PFOS; and sigma PFAS (x-axis) for fast food or pizza restaurant; not home prepared and not fast food; shellfish; and fish.
Figure 2.
Comparison of regression coefficients from the 7-d/30-d recall model, based on 2007–2014 data.

Similar articles

See all similar articles


    1. Barry V, Winquist A, Steenland K. 2013. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) exposures and incident cancers among adults living near a chemical plant. Environ Health Perspect 121(11–12):1313–1318, PMID: 24007715, 10.1289/ehp.1306615. - DOI - PMC - PubMed
    1. Begley TH, Hsu W, Noonan G, Diachenko G. 2008. Migration of fluorochemical paper additives from food-contact paper into foods and food simulants. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess 25(3):384–390, PMID: 18311629, 10.1080/02652030701513784. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Begley TH, White K, Honigfort P, Twaroski ML, Neches R, Walker RA. 2005. Perfluorochemicals: potential sources of and migration from food packaging. Food Addit Contam 22(10):1023–1031, PMID: 16227186, 10.1080/02652030500183474. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Bjermo H, Darnerud PO, Pearson M, Barbieri HE, Lindroos AK, Nälsén C. 2013. Serum concentrations of perfluorinated alkyl acids and their associations with diet and personal characteristics among Swedish adults. Mol Nutr Food Res 57(12):2206–2215, PMID: 23934649, 10.1002/mnfr.201200845. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Blaine AC, Rich CD, Hundal LS, Lau C, Mills MA, Harris KM, et al. 2013. Uptake of perfluoroalkyl acids into edible crops via land applied biosolids: field and greenhouse studies. Environ Sci Technol 47(24):14062–14069, PMID: 24206563, 10.1021/es403094q. - DOI - PubMed

Publication types

MeSH terms