McDonald's: Stop using packaging that contaminates drinking water!

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My name is Brenda Hampton and I live in Lawrence County, Alabama. The drinking water in my community is contaminated with toxic chemicals called PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). 

Our drinking water intake valve is located downstream from numerous industrial plants that release these chemicals and one of them is even making PFAS for food packaging. And in 2016, our local water authority told us not to drink the water because it had tested with extremely high levels of these chemicals. 

My neighbors and I have been drinking and cooking with bottled water ever since. But members of the community have been drinking poisoned water for decades. And now, my community is experiencing health problems that we're concerned may be due to PFAS exposure.

My own mother, not a smoker or a drinker, experienced renal failure. So I gave her my left kidney to keep her alive. And then later, I developed kidney problems, too. Our community had an 8-year-old with breast cancer and a 17-year-old with prostate cancer. One baby was born with a liver tumor that was 20% of his body weight. 

Sadly, we are not alone. Today, millions of U.S. residents are drinking PFAS-contaminated water. No community should go through what we have suffered.

Scientists have linked PFAS chemicals to devastating health problems from cancer to kidney problems to immune suppression. Especially now, the ability of PFAS to weaken immune systems could mean that we are more vulnerable to Covid-19 and its complications.  

As a grandma, this worries me to no end.

What does this have to do with McDonald’s? Recent lab testing found the presence of fluorine on a McDonald’s Big Mac box, fry bag, and cookie bag. These results suggest that these food packaging items are all treated with PFAS chemicals and made national headlines in CNN and other major outlets.

Companies use PFAS to make paper grease-resistant—they put very long-lasting, toxic chemicals on paper that people will only use for a few minutes. 

McDonald’s is serving millions of people a day. How many of those people are eating from packaging that could be poisoning someone’s drinking water?

One of the plants that poisoned the water in my community, owned by a company called Daikin, actually makes these chemicals for food packaging. We don’t know if this plant makes chemicals for McDonald’s packaging—but it doesn’t matter. These chemicals have no place in my community, and they have no place in McDonald’s packaging.

As the largest fast-food chain in the world, McDonald’s is driving demand for these chemicals. And they have the power to make a change.

McDonald’s has the opportunity to be a leader. If they stop using these chemicals, it can help affect the packaging used by the whole fast-food industry. Safer alternatives are available and in fact, many of the items tested from McDonald’s were PFAS-free. They just have to make a policy to use only PFAS-free packaging. 

Until big corporations stop manufacturing these chemicals and the government bans PFAS, more and more people will have their drinking water contaminated just like we have.

Enough is enough!

Will you help me send a message to the CEO of McDonald’s? Tell him to stop using packaging that can contaminate our food and drinking water. Clean, safe food and water is a right, not a privilege.