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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Synthetic chemicals used in the packaging, processing and storage of food might be harmful to human health over the long term, according to a new commentary in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The authors warn that the packaging could be a problem because most of the substances can leach into the foods we eat. Some of the chemicals are regulated, but the environmental scientists say people who eat processed or packaged foods are likely to be chronically exposed to low levels of these substances throughout their lives.

The authors claim the long term impact is unknown, and lifelong exposure to these materials is concerning. More than 4,000 chemicals are used in packaging, including formaldehyde, bisphenol A, phthalates, tributyltin, and triclosan. Some of the substances are known to be cancer causing and can also disrupt hormone production.

Establishing potential cause and effect as a result of lifelong exposure to these chemicals will be difficult, but the authors are calling for studies to rule out any potential links to health problems.

For more info, visit: http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2014/01/28/jech-2013-202593

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