There is a prevailing sentiment among well-meaning people who don’t want to be unduly influenced by alarmists and worrywarts: if something were truly dangerous, they wouldn’t be allowed to sell it. Unfortunately, this logical line of thinking has been disproven time and again as a result of our broken regulatory system. The story of Toxic Teflon, as recently laid out in The Intercept’s three-part series, is a horrifying illustration of this fact.
DuPont Suspected Teflon Harmful for Decades
In the 1980s, even as DuPont transferred its female workers out of Teflon (while tracking birth defects of babies born to workers exposed to PFOA while pregnant), and quietly monitored the spread of PFOA into local water supplies, DuPont increased its use and emission of PFOA. As The Intercept reported, “If they did decide to reduce emissions or stop using the chemical altogether, they still couldn’t undo the years of damage already done. As the  meeting summary noted, ‘We are already liable for the past 32 years of operation’” (source 1). According to a 2007 study by Dennis Paustenbach published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, “between 1951 and 2003 the West Virginia plant eventually spread nearly 2.5 million pounds of the chemical” into the air and water surrounding its plant, with additional amounts spread around its New Jersey plant as well (source 1). PFOA waste was released into the air, buried in barrels in unlined landfills and along river banks, and dumped into the ocean.
PFOA (C8) Linked to a Wide Range of Negative Health Effects
that C8 was "more likely than not" linked to ulcerative colitis… as well as to high cholesterol; pregnancy-induced hypertension; thyroid disease; testicular cancer; and kidney cancer. The scientists’ findings, published in more than three dozen peer-reviewed articles, were striking, because the chemical’s effects were so widespread throughout the body and because even very low exposure levels were associated with health effects. (source 1)
PFOA Is Everywhere and in Everyone
Regulatory System Is Broken
This deadly chemical that DuPont continued to use well after it knew it was linked to health problems is now practically everywhere...
In some ways, C8 [or PFOA] already is the tobacco of the chemical industry — a substance whose health effects were the subject of a decades-long corporate cover-up...And, like tobacco, C8 is a symbol of how difficult it is to hold companies responsible, even when mounting scientific evidence links their products to cancer and other diseases. (source 1)
The Toxic Treadmill Continues
Does What I Do Matter?
- Support toxic chemical reform, including placing consumer pressure on companies to reform their corporate policies when legislative reform is not forthcoming.
- Minimize my family’s exposure to these products whenever possible.
- Refuse to support these companies financially.
Sources and Further Reading
- The Teflon Toxin: DuPont and the Chemistry of Deception (The Intercept)
- The Teflon Toxin: The Case Against DuPont (The Intercept)
- The Teflon Toxin: How DuPont Slipped Past the EPA (The Intercept)
- Teflon Chemical Harmful at Smallest Doses: EPA's "Safe" Level is Hundreds or Thousands of Times Too Weak (Environmental Working Group)
- Toxic Teflon: 9 Ways to Minimize Your Family's Exposure
- Cooking without Teflon
- Teflon-Free Cookware and Bakeware
- Goodbye, Teflon. Hello, Le Creuset.
- Avoiding Toxins in Baby Products
- Eat Less Plastic: 33 Ways to Keep Plastic Chemicals Out of Your Family's Diet
- 7 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Family's Exposure to Toxic Flame Retardants
- Ways to Avoid Toxic Styrofoam
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