Nothing beats the smell of microwave popcorn on a rainy afternoon, but the reasons to avoid this treat are mounting.
First there is the problem of popcorn lung, a respiratory issue caused by a chemical used to create the buttery flavor. Now there seems to be a new chemical-related problem, and this time it is a chemical not used on the popcorn itself, but found in the bag. Most microwave popcorn bags are coated with a perfluorinated chemical (PFC), which is designed to keep the oil from permeating and seeping through the bag. PFCs can break down to form another more hazardous chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which can leak onto the food during the heating process. The EPA has recommend that PFOAs be added to the list of likely carcinogens and has also requested that manufacturers stop using the chemical by 2015. A tenacious chemical compound, some PFOAs never break down and remain in the environment for the long term. This compound has been linked to cancer and birth defects in animal studies, and early epidemiological studies indicate that pregnant women exposed to the compound may have babies with reduced birth weight.
If reading about popcorn has made you crave it, here is a healthy way to make your own popcorn minus all those pesky chemicals.