Toxic Teflon: 10 Ways to Minimize Your Family's Exposure

To learn more about the story of toxic Teflon, read last week's post:
Toxic Teflon: How a Deadly Chemical Evaded Regulation and Ended Up inside 99.7% of Us

PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) or C8 is an essential ingredient in Teflon and for decades was used in a huge range of different products (nonstick cookware and bakeware, pizza boxes, coatings for eye glasses, waterproof clothing, and stain-proof coatings for carpets, to name a few). Because of exposure through consumer products and due to exposure as a result of the disposal of millions of pounds of chemical waste into the air, water, and landfills, 99.7% of Americans have PFOA in their blood. (source 1)

Studies have tied PFOA to an incredible range of health effects throughout the body, often even at very low exposure levels. These health effects include:
  • ovarian cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • lymphoma
  • reduced fertility
  • arthritis
  • hyperactivity
  • altered immune responses in children
  • hypotonia, or 'floppiness,' in infants" 
  • ulcerative colitis
  • high cholesterol
  • pregnancy-induced hypertension
  • thyroid disease
  • testicular cancer
  • kidney cancer
(sources 1, 2)

The story of toxic Teflon is a horrifying illustration of our broken regulatory system, and proof that consumers cannot rely on the reasonable assumption that if something were truly dangerous, companies wouldn’t be allowed to sell it.
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)

While U.S. companies have participated in a "voluntary" (read "unenforceable") phase-out of PFOA, the not-so-different replacement chemicals industry is now using instead appear to be just as problematic. (source 3)

Does What I Do Matter?

In the face of this kind of information, it is easy to feel outraged but also helpless. However, I take the same stance with PFOA that I do with all other toxic chemicals I learn about. While I cannot eliminate my family's exposure, I can refuse to support these companies financially and minimize my family's exposure to PFOA (as well as the novel “fluorochemicals” that have replaced PFOAs in consumer products) whenever possible. Here are some ways to do that.

Toxic Teflon: How a Deadly Chemical Evaded Regulation and Ended Up inside 99.7% of Us

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

PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid), also known as C8, is an essential ingredient in Teflon (first introduced in 1946). DuPont is by far the leader in PFOA use and emissions in the U.S. Due to recent court battles many internal documents from DuPont have been uncovered, including “write-ups of experiments on rats, dogs, and rabbits showing that C8 was associated with a wide range of health problems that sometimes killed the lab animals…[and] hundreds of internal communications revealing that DuPont employees for many years suspected that C8 was harmful and yet continued to use it, putting the company’s workers and the people who lived near its plants at risk” (source 1).


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