Everyone loves popcorn, especially when watching movies and TV. So we toss a bag of microwave popcorn into the microwave and wait for the delicious aroma of fresh popcorn. Munching the fresh popcorn we revel in its richness, often accompanied by a beer or soda. But what exactly are we eating?
In addition to the corn, we are eating salt – perhaps too much – and butter substitutes, of dubious safety. Much more important is an invisible hitchhiker – Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a cousin of Teflon. Whoa, what is this stuff and what is it doing to me?
PFOA is a fluorinated chemical that is similar to common detergents, except for the addition of atoms of fluorine. Coatings of this material are able to repel oils, and are used as barriers on the paper of micowave popcorn to prevent the butter from escaping the bag during standing on grocery shelves and during microwaving. But the heat of microwaving causes the migration of the PFOA into the butter and onto the popcorn.
You may be wondering, “So what?” The answer is that it is a danger to you health. The Science Advisory Board of the U.S. EPA agency says the agency should classify PFOA as a likely human carcinogen. So, make your popcorn the old fashion way, and use real melted butter.
The next issue will connect the hazard of PFOA to carpeting in your home. You don’t have to eat your carpeting, all you have to do crawl around on it – babies – or inhale dust off it.