DuPont Refutes Charges of Health Risks for Teflon-related Chemicals

Environmental Working Group (EWG) scientists who spent the last three years reviewing 50,000 pages of regulatory studies, internal industry and government documents, and a growing body of independent studies claim PFOA, a chemical used in the process to make DuPont's Teflon family of products, is hazardous to human health. Not true, counters DuPont.

"PFOA has been wrongfully represented as a health risk when, in fact, it has been used safely for more than 50 years with no known adverse effects to human health," says Richard J. Angiullo, vice president and general manager, DuPont Fluoroproducts. "There is no evidence or data that demonstrates PFOA causes adverse human health effects. There is extensive scientific data, including worker surveillance data, peer-reviewed toxicology and epidemiology studies, and expert panel reports that support this position."

Angiullo noted cookware sold under the Teflon brand does not contain PFOA. Although PFOA is used in the process to manufacture Teflon-branded fluoropolymers, it is removed in the manufacturing process.

The EWG scientists released the first comprehensive review of perfluorochemicals (PFCs) (PFOA is a member of the PFC family), which are used to make Teflon, Scotchgard, Stainmaster, Gore-Tex and other popular products. A draft EPA report highlights serious emerging health concerns over PFCs. EPA found that members of the PFC chemical family present health risks for women and girls.

"These chemicals have been in use for 50 years, they've found their way into the body of every American, and we're just now starting to understand the health effects. That means we need a better system for testing industrial chemicals' health effects before we permit their use," says Kris Thayer, EWG senior scientist.

"The EPA document upon which the claims are based is clearly marked by EPA as an 'internal deliberative draft' that should not be cited or quoted," counters Angiullo. "Clearly, the document has not been subject to full EPA review. There are many studies on the toxicity of PFOA leading us and others to conclude that the compound is safe for all segments of the population, including women of child-bearing age and young girls."

Robert W. Rickard, Ph.D., director of the DuPont Haskell Laboratory for Health and Environmental Sciences, says EPA's calculation of risk is based on a single data point. "Newly generated data, which were presented in an open scientific forum and which have been shared with EPA, are more comprehensive and should demonstrate that there is a higher margin of safety than reported in EPA's internal draft," he asserts.

The EWG's findings are available to the public at The site includes an interactive global map, showing nearly all publicly available findings of PFCs in people, animals, air and water 2,300 test results in all.

DuPont says that it, along with other fluoropolymer manufacturers, has been working with EPA since 2000 to assess the body of knowledge about PFOA and to improve industry's stewardship of this material. There are currently no EPA regulations governing PFOA.

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