EPA Moves to Break Industry Logjam on Teflon Chemical Studies

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, June 24, 2004

(WASHINGTON, June 24) — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today put back on track its review of a chemical used to make Teflon cookware. The chemical, known as C-8 or PFOA, is found in virtually all Americans' blood. The EPA's investigation had been derailed by DuPont and other corporate interests, according to researchers at the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

"The EPA is so concerned about the prevalence and health risks of the Teflon chemical that Agency officials are going to do their own studies to determine how it gets into human blood, rather than wait for industry to come forth with data," said EWG Senior Scientist Dr. Timothy J. Kropp. "Well over one year after this investigation began, the industry continues to drag its feet on key studies that will tell EPA what products expose people to the greatest amounts of PFOA. If the EPA had not stepped in as it did today, we might not have seen exposure data for at least several years, if at all."

The Teflon chemical does not break down in the environment, has been linked in peer-reviewed research to several kinds of cancer and other health problems, and has been found in nearly all American blood samples tested. It is used to make dozens of popular consumer products found in nearly every home, from Teflon or other non-stick coated cookware, Stainmaster and other carpet protectors, clothing, fast food packaging, and various cleaning, textile and paper products. DuPont's own website calls ours a "Teflon world" — see http://www.teflon.com/Teflon/consumer/na/eng/brandWorld/

Yet despite mounting concerns over the Teflon chemical's health risks and prevalence in and around us, EPA and industry have spent the past year in a process that will not tell consumers how the Teflon chemical has entered the bloodstream of over 90 per cent of Americans or what the consequences of that contamination are.

Kropp said, "Ultimately, the expedited, or Enforceable Consent Agreement (ECA), process currently underway would have given the public less information and less protection than the full Rule Making procedure at EPA. Today, we applaud the EPA for taking the initiative needed to learn how to best protect Americans from this toxic material. We urge industry officials to provide the studies needed to assess the worldwide pollution in air, water and people for which they are responsible."

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For more information on the Teflon chemical and its family of perfluorochemicals, please visit https://www.ewg.org/featured/228.

EWG is a nonprofit research organization that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.