Unless you have a ton of extra time on your hands, you probably never wondered why. Sure, cardboard is thicker than your average plate, but pizza boxes have also been chemically treated with perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) to withstand all the fat. While these chemicals help keep your kitchen counter safe from grease, they pose a number of dangers to human health.
In addition to disrupting the immune system, the chemicals may increase the risk of cancer, hypothyroidism, liver malfunction and obesity, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and international health and environmental experts. Although toxicologists have long been concerned about PFASs, they are just now asking manufacturers to replace the substances with safer alternatives. They also want products laced with the chemicals to be labeled as such to help consumers stay away from the toxins whenever possible.
On the opposing side of the issue, the Environmental Protection Agency is saying that the chemicals don't pose too much of a threat to our health and are actually safer than alternative options used in the past. Since the verdict is still out, don’t expect any major changes to your pizza box any time soon. In the mean time, if PFASs are of concern to you, minimize your exposure by taking your favorite pizza delivery place off speed dial and heading to a local restaurant next time you’re craving a slice. You’ll also want to avoid using anything that’s "stain-resistant," "waterproof" or "non-stick." They’re typically laced with PFASs, too.