EPA Says Teflon Material A Likely Carcinogen

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A semantic upgrade by the Environmental Protection Agency in a report on perfluorooctanoic acid, a chemical compound used to make Teflon, moves the compound from “suggested carcinogen” to “likely carcinogen.” The change in status may have huge legal ramifications.

The scientific advisory panel to the EPA will submit the report next month revealing the results of their investigation of a common compound used in creating non-stain, non-stick material for products like frying pans and pizza boxes.

PFOA is a synthetic chemical sometimes called “C8.” Companies use PFOA to make fluoropolymers, substances with special properties that have thousands of important manufacturing and industrial applications, according to the EPA website.

Consumer products made with fluoropolymers include non-stick cookware and breathable, all-weather clothing.

The upgrade in status is the result of studies on how the carcinogen enters the bloodstream and affects health. Though no conclusions have been made regarding the cancer risk posed in humans, experiments by the scientific advisory panel on male and female rats and mice have shown the development of four different kinds of tumors in those who were exposed to the chemical.

The panel says that is enough to consider it a likely carcinogen.

The change in status will lead to stricter regulations and be the basis for legal action against manufacturers such as DuPont Co., which produces PFOA. The EPA is seeking millions of dollars in fines from DuPont, accusing the company of withholding 20-years worth of information about health and environmental problems linked to the compound.

Last year, DuPont settled a class-action lawsuit filed by residents living near its Parkersburg, West Virginia plant for $300 million. DuPont still denies any wrong doing or health threat posed by PFOA.

DuPont spokesman, R. Clifton Webb says there is no link between PFOA and cancer.

“Based on an evaluation of human health and toxicology studies, DuPont believes that the weight of evidence suggests that PFOA exposure does not cause cancer in humans and does not pose a health risk to the general public,” Webb said. “To date, no human health effects are known to be caused by PFOA, even in workers who have significantly higher exposure levels than the general population.”

EPA Says Teflon Material A Likely Carcinogen
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