Originally published February 14 2008
Chemical Used in Non-Stick Cookware Continues to Prove Its Toxicity
by Jennifer McKinley
(NaturalNews) There seems to be more evidence mounting in the ongoing Perflurooctanoic Acid (PFOA) debate. PFOA is used in the production of Teflon and other non-stick surfaces and is found in the packaging of candy bars, microwave popcorn, fast food packaging like french fry and pizza boxes, bakery items, drinks, paper plates, and a host of "stain resistant" products such as carpets. Other well-known brand names containing PFOA include Stainmaster, Scotchgard, SilverStone, Fluron, Supra, Excalibur, Greblon, Xylon, Duracote, Resistal, Autograph and T-Fal.
Although the DuPont Corporation has stated that PFOA is only used in the manufacturing process and should not be found in the final products, it must be noted that the chemical is found in the bloodstream of 95% of American men, women, and children. It seems that no one is quite certain how the chemical residue has made it into the bloodstream of such a large number of people if it is not located in the final product. Research has shown that PFOA was still present in the blood for approximately four years after exposure and levels were only reduced by half. It has been implicated by some research to cause increased instances of cancer in the pancreas, liver, testicles, and mammary glands. Also increased were instances of miscarriage, weight loss, thyroid problems, weaker immune systems, and low organ weights.
There is a growing community of scientists including a research team at the University of Toronto that believe the largest concentration of PFOA is not the manufacturing process of Teflon, but a cousin of Teflon called "telomers."
Telomers are also made by DuPont and a select few other companies. These telomers are used to make the stain and grease repellent coatings for fast food containers, apparel, and carpeting.
In a study conducted at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, there appears to be a correlation between PFOA and low birth weight in newborns.
ABC news network reported in February of 2007 that the researchers tested the blood of 300 newborn infants and examined their levels of exposure to PFOA and "other fluorinated chemicals in relation to their birth weight, head circumference and other developmental markers."
One of the head researchers in the independent study, Dr. Lynn Goldman said, "It appears that there is a relation between a higher level of exposure and lower birth weight, as well as the circumference of the head." Dr. Goldman described the decreases in the over all size of the children as, "very small."
With looming legal action and numerous law suits currently pending against the DuPont Company, if these findings are proven accurate, the results could have a major influence on the outcome of the court cases. It could also bring about regulation from the Federal government where there had previously been none.
In addition, the Environmental Working Group has reported that PFOA has been "found in wildlife from Italy, the US, Japan, Russia, Belgium, and Canada, and in places as remote as the Sand Island Wildlife Refuge in Midway Atoll." They also report that scientists have found PFOA "in the egg yolks of double crested cormorant from Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba Canada; in the blood of Russian Caspian seals; and in a short-snouted spinner dolphin off the coast of Florida." (http://www.ewg.org/node/21749)
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Morgantown, West Virginia, under the direction of John Meade, have completed a study that showed PFOA priming immune system response and causing an overreaction to allergens in mice.
In the study, mice were given PFOA before exposure to an egg allergen. The mice produced more "allergen-specific antibodies and experienced more constriction of their airways than those exposed to the allergen alone." (http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg...)
A science director at DuPont, Robert Rickard has said that he did not believe that PFOA was likely to be a cause of allergy-related health issues in humans; but to date, there have been no studies to examine this possibility.
The EPA has urged DuPont to eliminate this toxin from their manufacturing process but even as late as mid 2007, the elimination of PFOA has been strictly voluntary. DuPont claims to have already reduced PFOA emissions from manufacturing plants 97% but have never made a commitment to discontinue the use of the chemical altogether.
PFOA is not regulated. Any restrictions on the use of the substance has resulted from court settlements without intervention by US regulatory committees. At this time no permits are required from the EPA or state departments. DuPont has said that it would handle its own monitoring and provide reports with the results.
The EPA has already identified PFOA as a "likely" human carcinogen. DuPont maintains, regardless of the studies or research done, that the substance is not related to any adverse health effects and that all exposure and levels in humans fall within "normal range." The fundamental question remains: Is any amount of PFOA in the body "normal"?
What can you do to protect your self and your family?
Most of the items that are in direct contact with non-stick coating like those mentioned above are not healthy for the body to consume. If at all possible, avoid french fries, candy bars, pizza, and microwave popcorn where Teflon is commonly used.
Vacuuming any carpeting with the "stain-resistant" claim releases the chemical into the air to be circulated in your home.
There are alternatives to using Teflon and other non-stick cookware. Heating non-stick cookware to broiling temperatures or above 350 degrees F, releases the PFOA into the air and according to some naturopaths, into your food especially if there is a scratch in your non-stick cookware. Alternative food storage and cooking source suggestions include glassware, stoneware, and enamel coated cast iron.
The realization that a potentially hazardous chemical is in numerous products that individuals and families come into contact with daily, may seem daunting. While the DuPont Company remains passive regarding any research findings regarding PFOA, those who are skeptical about its safety seem to find more vindication with the publication of every study. If independent research continues to show consistently negative effects of PFOA, DuPont's legal team may need more than a little Teflon from their science division to get them out of an ever increasing "sticky" situation.
About the authorJennifer McKinley is a wife, mother of five, home-schooler, and business owner. She has spent many years researching issues dealing with holistic and natural medicine and how different chemicals in our homes, foods, medications, and environments affect our health and quality of life. Her goal is to promote public awareness and knowledge regarding these issues. She has recently launched a hand made personal care product company promoting natural and chemical free skin care. Please visit www.urbannaturals.net
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