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New study and new dangers of the old toxic Teflon chemical

Thursday, January 29, 2009

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We suspected this for a while but the new study proves it all - PFOA, the chemical found in Teflon, has dangerous consequences for the reproductive health of women. The UCLA-based team of scientists who analyzed data from more than a decade-long Danish study of almost 100,000 children and their mothers found that women with higher levels of PFOA in blood experienced more difficulties in conceiving and had twice the risk of infertility compared to women with lower PFOA levels.

This groundbreaking study, published today in the Human Reproduction journal, is the first to show the dangers of PFOA to reproductive heath. Until this study, we were aware of the negative effects of PFOA on reproductive hormones and the broad range of human health consequences linked with exposure to this chemical. This is the first time we see the consequences on the reproductive system of women.

There are many reasons why we are concerned about PFOA. The chemical is used very widely and in many consumer products, such as stain resistant carpets and clothing, microwave popcorn bags, non-stick food packaging and Teflon coated products. CDC has found it in almost all Americans. PFOA is a likely human carcinogen and it is highly persistent in the environment. In people with higher exposures, PFOA is linked to birth defects, increased cancer rates, and changes to lipid levels, the immune system, and liver.

Sadly, even though these findings are alarming, I can't say I am surprised with the results of the study. They are to be expected, given the complete lack of health protections from toxic chemical exposures under the current federal law. In fact, unless we fix the broken system of public health protections, we should expect more findings like this to emerge in the future.

This is yet one more glaring reason Congress and the Obama administration need to embrace the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act when U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and his House counterparts re-introduce their landmark legislation to fundamentally overhaul the nation's lax chemical regulatory law, the Toxic Substances Control Act.