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For fans of decaffeinated coffee, we have some bad news.

The not-so-buzzy version of coffee can harbor a chemical that can cause cancer, CNN reports, which has health and environmental activists pushing to have the substance banned for its use in making decaf coffee.

Methylene chloride is the substance in question and it's used by coffee roasters to remove caffeine from coffee beans. It's also utilized as a solvent in various manufacturing and commercial processes, but the federal government banned its use as a paint stripper in 2019 and is now considering an almost complete kibosh on its use for consumers and industry except in limited settings.

The reason? Short-term exposure to the chemical, research shows, can harm your central nervous system. And being exposed to the chemical for a longer period can induce liver and lung cancers, as well as liver damage more generally.

And yet the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows the use of methylene chloride for food production in the making of decaffeinated coffee.

If that seems sketchy, you're not alone. Late last year, CNN reports that a group of health advocates, which include the Environmental Defense Fund and Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, filed a petition with the FDA asking the agency to ban methylene chloride from the decaf coffee production process.

The FDA published the petition in January and accepted public comments on the application until March.

Currently, federal regulations allows the use of methylene chloride as a solvent to remove caffeine from coffee beans as long as the chemical does not "exceed 10 parts per million (0.001 percent) in decaffeinated roasted coffee and in decaffeinated soluble coffee extract (instant coffee)."

Environmental Defense Fund senior director of chemical policy Maria Doa argued to CNN that this regulation is "decades old and clearly outdated."

"Although the levels of methylene chloride may generally be minimal, it is completely unnecessary because safer processes for decaffeinating coffee are available and being used," Doa said about any trace levels of methylene chloride that have been found in decaf coffee.

Methods that don't require the use of methylene chloride include harnessing carbon dioxide as a solvent to take out the caffeine and the Swiss Water Process, which involves roasters soaking the beans in warm water and using organic solvents instead of methylene chloride.

Meanwhile, as you await for a FDA decision on methylene chloride and if you still want to drink decaf coffee, Doa told CNN that coffee enthusiasts should look out for organic beans or those labeled to have gone through the Swiss Water Process — a damn fine cup of coffee, in other words.

More on caffeine: Adding Waste Coffee Grounds Makes Concrete 30 Percent Stronger

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