According to the results of the study, 28 chemicals were screened (in urine analysis) and in each of the samples between 18 and 23 dangerous substances were found.
The study was conducted in six countries and 10 people participated in Portugal, including one MP, one mayor, journalists and teachers. In all countries the aim was to assess the presence in the human body of potentially hazardous chemicals as a result of everyday use of packaging, in particular food packaging.
According to the results of the study, released by the environmentalist association Zero, which participated in the initiative, the variations between countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Latvia, Slovenia and Spain, as well as Portugal) were not significant, "which indicates that daily contact with these substances takes place throughout Europe, being transversal to geography, profession, age, among other variables", Zero said in a statement.
The analyses focused on assessing the presence of chemicals that can be found in disposable food packaging, such as phthalates and phenols. The two are associated by scientific studies with diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular diseases and will have negative impacts on the reproductive and immune systems as well, the association stresses.
"These results are further evidence of how packaging and the products we consume and use on a daily basis introduce foreign chemicals into our bodies, which science has shown to be potential risks to our health and the environment. It is urgent to reduce the use of disposable options and to rely on safe, circular materials," warns Susana Fonseca, of Zero's management, quoted in the statement.
The project is the result of a partnership within the European Zero Waste Europe network, which brings together 31 members from 24 countries and aims to lead the transition to a waste-free Europe.
The organisations involved draw attention to potential problems for human health arising from the current model of production and consumption and ask for a review of the legislation applicable to food contact materials.
Retailers and brands should also switch to safer alternatives and consumers should make healthier choices, they also call on organisations.
Zero recalls the warning from scientists in March this year (in the so-called "Consensus Statement") of the thousands of chemicals used in food packaging and other food contact materials, and many of these substances are able to migrate from food packaging to food, so their continued use should be understood as a risk to human health.
As a result of the alert more than 230 non-governmental organisations from around the world have asked policy makers to take urgent action.