Teflon Linked To Birth
Defects And Illness

By Michael Day
Health Correspondent
The Telegraph - UK
The coating on non-stick pans used in millions of kitchens throughout the world has been linked to birth defects in humans and to the deaths of pets.
Chemical firms face claims that perfluorinated organic chemicals, such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is in Teflon - first used in 1945 - and oil- and water-resistant coatings, are a health threat.
Du Pont, which makes Teflon, has to answer accusations in the United States this week that it had evidence about dangers posed by PFOA but deliberately and illegally kept it secret. The US Environmental Protection Agency says that Du Pont concealed its own 1981 research showing that its pregnant workers were passing the chemical to their unborn children.
In addition, in 1991, it failed to report evidence that the chemical had contaminated the water supply to 12,000 people.
Du Pont has four days left to contest the charges - and a potential fine of $300 million (£160 million).
Bucky Bailey is a member of one of eight families living near the Du Pont factory in Parkersburg, West Virginia, who are suing the company over the effects of PFOA.
His mother, Sue Bailey, was a factory worker exposed to PFOA while pregnant. Mr Bailey was born with only one nostril and other facial defects for which he has had 30 operations.
He has recently married, but does not intend to have children in case they inherit his condition. He is now determined to hold Du Pont to account.
"I want them to admit that they made a mistake, to say they messed up and that they're going to do everything they can to help," Mr Bailey said.
Dr Tim Kropp, the senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, an organisation in Washington DC, said: "The Environmental Protection Agency should force Du Pont to pay a punishing fine such that it sends out a signal to all chemical manufacturers that it is not profitable to withhold critical information.
"The Teflon chemical PFOA, like other fluorochemicals, is in people everywhere. It never breaks down in the environment and it's toxic at or near levels found in humans."
Clifton Webb, Du Pont's director of public affairs, denied that his company had acted incorrectly.
"We believe that we acted completely within the law and we have the facts that will substantiate our position," he said. Mr Webb added that despite evidence of exposure in the womb, and of water contamination, there was no evidence that actual harm resulted from PFOA exposure and so the company was not legally bound to release its findings.
"We stuck to the letter of the law," he said. "We have had 50 years of experience with PFOA and none of that experience suggests harmful effects resulting from exposure."
A separate health concern over Teflon is that when non-stick pans are overheated they release fumes that cause "Teflon flu". Mr Webb said that the condition, which causes aches and chills, was "temporary and soon passes".
Pet birds, however, are easily killed by the fumes. Retief Ehlers, a veterinary surgeon in London with a special interest in exotic birds, said: "Small birds such as budgies, finches and cockatiels are particularly at risk."
Mr Webb said that the kitchen was "not a place to have birds because they have very sensitive respiratory systems". He also said that the temperatures required to overheat Teflon pans would burn food, the fumes from which could also harm pet birds and humans.
Karine Pellaumail, a spokeswoman for Friends of the Earth, said: "There are real concerns about the safety of these chemicals and, like all substances that persist in the human body and the environment, we would like to see them all phased out."
Campaigners anticipate resistance to any attempt to ban perfluorinated polymers. Their unusual combination of properties - water and oil resistance and near-imperviousness to heat - have resulted in their use in many consumer products and in a host of industrial settings.
In Britain, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) plans to restrict their use.
Alun Michael, an environment minister, said that the chemicals represented "a real and significant risk to the population and environment in the UK". He has indicated that Britain will act unilaterally in Europe by banning one chemical of the class, perfluorooctane sulphonate, in line with the US.
The chemical company 3M withdrew all of its Scotchguard products containing the chemical in 2000 after pressure from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
A spokesman for Defra said that there were also concerns about the PFOA used in Teflon and that it would study the results of a US safety review.
One authority on perfluorinated polymers, Dr Jonathan Martin of Toronto University, said he considered the PFOA in Teflon to be potentially as harmful as the banned perfluorooctane sulphonate.
"It's not true that risks are less. PFOA has been recognised as a rat carcinogen for decades," he said.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004.
From Mary Sparrowdancer
I am going to make nearly the same comment on the Teflon problems as the comment I sent to you regarding Prozac now being found in people's drinking water.
My comment on Prozac is as follows:
"Once again, despite the concerns raised here, the 'F' word has been carefully omitted from the report and study.
"Prozac is a fluorinated pharmaceutical. It is a fluoride compound. Among other things, fluoride is also known to be a thyroid toxin."
Having stated the above, I would like to now also that Teflon is another fluoride compound.
My fear is that people will hear "C-8" or "perfluorooctanoic acid" and not realize that these are more names for a fluoride compound.
I will use the same closing statement that I used for the Prozac comment: "Someone has created a monster. We need to wake up and recognize it - while we can still see and think."
Mary Sparrowdancer



This Site Served by TheHostPros