chemical found in products ranging from clothes to stain
repellents to food packaging and cosmetics, and a component of
Teflon production, poses developmental and reproductive risks to
humans, according to a risk assessment form the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (Read
the latest news
about Teflon. DuPont face massive fines being imposed.)
PFOA exposures in children may be well above safe levels, and
some children have high enough blood levels of PFOA to cause
serious toxicity in laboratory studies.
reviewed PFOA after “unexpected toxicological and
bioaccumulation discoveries” in the entire class of
perfluorinated chemicals, particularly PFOS (perfluorooctane
sulfonates), the active ingredient in Scotchgard, which was
removed from the market by the EPA in 2000.
similar chemical properties to PFOA. Neither product breaks down
in the environment and both cause various cancers and adverse
animal studies PFOA has been associated with:
“Significant increases in treatment related deaths” in rat
offspring at doses that did not affect the mothers
changes in the weight of various organs, including the brain,
prostate, liver, thymus, and kidneys
of a significant number of rat pups of mothers that had been
exposed to PFOA
the pituitary at all doses in female rat offspring (The
pituitary secretes hormones that regulate growth, reproduction,
and many metabolic processes. Change in pituitary size is
associated with toxicity)
unrelated studies have also found evidence of birth defects in
babies from PFOA-exposed workers. In 1981, two out of seven
women who worked at a DuPont Teflon plant gave birth to babies
with birth defects. DuPont then moved 50 women workers at the
plant to reduce their exposure to PFOA.
Additionally, PFOA has been associated with tumours in at least
four different organs in animal tests, and has been associated
with increases in prostate cancer in PFOA plant workers.
potentially harmful effects of PFOA are heightened because
exposure is so widespread. Some 90 percent of the U.S.
population has PFOA in their blood, some at levels as high as
those found in PFOA factory workers.
to the EPA, it is not known how humans are generally exposed to
the substance. However, it has been suggested that PFOA’s
longevity could be a contributing factor.
PCBs and DDT, PFOA does not break down in the environment, so it
is infinitely persistent. Additionally, other classes of
chemicals break down into PFOA, which means that even if PFOA
were banned, levels of the substance in the environment could
still increase due to the other chemicals.
all of the PFOA generated by industries will remain in the
PFOA and related chemicals have been widely used in consumer
products for 50 years, risks posed by such chemicals have only
recently been exposed. Industry is not required to conduct
safety tests on chemicals like PFOA in order to sell or use
them. Due to this lack of regulatory authority, the EPA’s
influence over chemical manufacturers is largely limited to
requests for data once contamination creates a problem.