Toxic Teflon

Did you know that Teflon has been linked to cancer and birth defects?

Eight U.S. companies, including giant DuPont Co., agreed on January 25, 2007 to virtually eliminate a harmful chemical used to make Teflon from all consumer products coated with the nonstick material.

Although the chemical would still be used to manufacture Teflon and similar products, processes will be developed to ensure that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) would not be released into the environment from finished products or manufacturing plants.

PFOA — a key processing agent in making nonstick and stain-resistant materials — has been linked to cancer and birth defects in animals and is in the blood of 95 percent of Americans, including pregnant women. It has also been found in the blood of marine organisms and Arctic polar bears.

The voluntary pact, which was crafted by the Environmental Protection Agency, will force companies to reduce manufacturing emissions of PFOA by 95 percent by no later than 2010. They will also have to reduce trace amounts of the compound in consumer products by 95 percent during the same period and virtually eliminate them by 2015.

The agreement will dramatically reduce the extent to which PFOA shows up in a wide variety of everyday products, including pizza boxes, nonstick pans and microwave-popcorn bags.

The move, which came just a month after DuPont reached a $16.5 million settlement with EPA over the company’s failure to report possible health risks associated with PFOA, drew applause from environmental groups that have frequently criticized both the administration and DuPont.
Scientific studies have not established a link between using products containing trace amounts of PFOA, such as microwave-popcorn bags or nonstick pans, and elevated cancer levels.

Several other companies agreed to reduce public exposure to the chemical, including 3M Co., Ciba and Clariant Corp. But DuPont, which settled a class-action suit accusing it of contaminating drinking water in Ohio and West Virginia communities near its plant in Parkersburg, W.Va., has attracted the most public scrutiny over its PFOA use.

William Bailey III, who was born in 1981 with multiple birth defects while his mother, Sue, was working with the chemical at the Parkersburg plant, said he will “be watching” to see if the chemical giant complies with the new agreement.

“They’re trying to save face,” said Bailey, who is suing DuPont over his birth defects.


Excerpt from an article written by Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
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7 responses to “Toxic Teflon

  1. Yes Teflon is toxic! We have two birds so we never use teflon coated pans, well I didn’t cook with them even before the birds.It’s great that you posted this so maybe others will learn to cook with safe pots and pans, like my mom did.Robin

  2. I’m so glad to see someone posting about these dangers. My husband and I have read about them, but it seems it never makes it to mainstream media where most people would hear about it. Thanks for all your efforts to inform us.Chris

  3. wow, I really had no idea. Should I get rid of all my teflon pans? (not that I really cook that much, but now I’m nervous to use them!!!)

  4. Diana Young, RD, LD, CDE

    What can you do to protect your self and your family?Avoid french fries, candy bars, pizza, and microwave popcorn where Teflon is commonly used.Vacuuming any carpeting with the “stain-resistant” claim releases the chemical into the air to be circulated in your home.There are alternatives to using Teflon and other non-stick cookware. Heating non-stick cookware to broiling temperatures or above 350 degrees F, releases the PFOA into the air and according to some naturopaths, into your food especially if there is a scratch in your non-stick cookware. Alternative food storage and cooking source suggestions include glassware, stoneware, and enamel coated cast iron.

  5. Good thing I only have 1 teflon coated pan. I’ll get rid of it.Very useful info Diana.

  6. Did you know McDonald’s hamburger patties are cooked with Teflon? The grills have a clam-shell top that is pulled down over the meat when cooking. This top side has a replaceable Teflon sheet so the meat doesn’t stick. It’s changed roughly every one or two weeks depending on how busy the store is. Just imagine all the carcinogens that are infused into the hamburgers people eat. I would know all this. I work in the grill.

  7. Diana Young, RD, LD, CDE

    OMG, that is not good. Thanks for letting us know. I’ll try to get the word out to as many people as possible. Thanks.

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