Quantcast

Non-Stick Coatings—Chemical Linked to Cancer Found in 99 Percent of Americans

Environmental Working Group

An independent scientific panel approved by the DuPont company as part of a class action lawsuit has linked an industrial chemical known as C-8 or PFOA to kidney and testicular cancer in humans.

“Widespread pollution by PFOA should be a wake-up call that our chemical regulation system is severely broken,” said Olga V. Naidenko, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group (EWG). “It is particularly urgent for the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a legal limit for drinking water pollution by PFOA, which is currently unregulated and never should have come to market.”

EWG has campaigned for nine years to curb the use of PFOA, a toxic perfluorinated chemical whose full name is perfluorooctanoic acid, and to impose a strict cap on its presence in drinking water. As well, EWG has advocated reforms to the federal Toxic Substances Control Act that would require pre-market safety testing of all chemicals.

Emissions of PFOA, once manufactured by DuPont to produce non-stick coatings, have polluted the water of at least nine states and the District of Columbia. As a result of widespread pollution, PFOA and related chemicals are now found in the bodies of more than 99 percent of Americans. Pollution has been particularly pronounced around Parkersburg, W.Va., where a DuPont plant emitted PFOA into the air and Ohio River from the 1950s until recently. Emissions from the plant have been largely eliminated over the past several years under a phase-out agreement between the Environmental Protection Agency and DuPont.

In 2002, communities whose drinking water was polluted with PFOA emissions from the Parkersburg DuPont plant filed a class action lawsuit against the company for contaminating ground water. Two years later, DuPont agreed to a settlement that created a scientific panel to conduct comprehensive detailed studies on PFOA and human health by analyzing data from nearly 70,000 people who live or have lived in six water districts in Ohio and West Virginia in the vicinity of the DuPont plant.

The scientific panel’s latest data, made public on Monday, associated the chemical with kidney and testicular cancer and possibly thyroid cancer. In earlier years, the panel linked PFOA to pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia. With this new finding, DuPont could be forced to spend more than $200 million on medical monitoring programs for current and former residents of the area.

EWG’s review of water pollution studies published in the open scientific literature and government dockets has determined that PFOA pollution in water has been reported not only in West Virginia and Ohio, but also New Jersey, Minnesota, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Virginia, New York and the District of Columbia.

Although the levels of PFOA found in people’s blood have declined recently as the chemical is phased out of use in the U.S., people can be exposed to perfluorinated chemicals by using a variety of consumer products, including grease-resistant food packaging as well as furniture, carpets and clothing treated with stain-resistant coatings. When ingested or inhaled, these chemicals can be converted into PFOA in the human body.

DuPont, the only current American maker of PFOA, has committed to phase out manufacture, purchase and use of the chemical by 2015. But companies overseas continue to produce and use it. U.S. law does not require that that its replacements be screened for safety for the environment and human health. In the case of PFOA and other toxic perfluorinated chemicals, only a global phase-out can protect public health and the environment.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Blueberry yogurt bark. SEE D JAN / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Having nutritious snacks to eat during the workday can help you stay energized and productive.

Read More Show Less
A 2017 flood in Elk Grove, California. Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

By Tara Lohan

It's been the wettest 12 months on record in the continental United States. Parts of the High Plains and Midwest are still reeling from deadly, destructive and expensive spring floods — some of which have lasted for three months.

Mounting bills from natural disasters like these have prompted renewed calls to reform the National Flood Insurance Program, which is managed by Federal Emergency Management Agency and is now $20 billion in debt.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Jennifer A. Smith / Moment / Getty Images

By Brenda Ekwurzel

When temperatures hit the 80s Fahrenheit in May above latitude 40, sun-seekers hit the parks, lakes, and beaches, and thoughts turn to summer. By contrast, when temperatures lurk in the drizzly 40s and 50s well into flower season, northerners get impatient for summer. But when those 80-degree temperatures visit latitude 64 in Russia, as they just did, and when sleet disrupts Mother's Day weekend in May in Massachusetts, as it just did, thoughts turn to: what is going on here?

Read More Show Less
Shrimp fishing along the coast of Nayarit, Mexico. Tomas Castelazo / Wikimedia, CC BY-SA

By Paula Ezcurra and Octavio Aburto

Thousands of hydroelectric dams are under construction around the world, mainly in developing countries. These enormous structures are one of the world's largest sources of renewable energy, but they also cause environmental problems.

Read More Show Less
Activists in North Dakota confront pipeline construction activities. A Texas bill would impose steep penalties for such protests. Speak Freely / ACLU

By Eoin Higgins

A bill making its way through the Texas legislature would make protesting pipelines a third-degree felony, the same as attempted murder.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
An Australian flag flutters in the wind in a dry drought-ridden landscape. Virginia Star / Moment / Getty Images

Australia re-elected its conservative governing Liberal-National coalition Saturday, despite the fact that it has refused to cut down significantly on greenhouse gas emissions or coal during its time in power, The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Tree lined street, UK. Richard Newstead / Moment / Getty Images

The UK government will fund the planting of more than 130,000 trees in English towns and cities in the next two years as part of its efforts to fight climate change, The Guardian reported Sunday.

Read More Show Less
A tropical storm above Bangkok on Aug. 04, 2016. Hristo Rusev/ NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

First off: Bangkok Wakes to Rain, the intricately wrought, elegantly crafted debut novel by the Thai-American author Pitchaya Sudbanthad, isn't really about climate change. This tale set in the sprawling subtropical Thai capital is ultimately a kind of family saga — although its interconnected characters aren't necessarily linked by a bloodline. What binds them is their relationship to a small parcel of urban land on which has variously stood a Christian mission, an upper-class family house, and a towering condominium. All of the characters have either called this place home or had some other significant connection to it.

Read More Show Less