An independent study published by Environmental Science & Technology has concluded that the use of consumer articles made with DuPont materials would not result in quantifiable exposure to perfluoroocatnoic acid (PFOA). DuPont initiated the study, which was conducted by Environ, to better understand the potential for consumer exposure and to determine what risk there is, if any, from PFOA, also known as C-8.
PFOA is used as a processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolymers, some of which are sold under the company’s well known Teflon brand. It may be found at very low trace levels in some fluorotelomers products, which are used primarily to provide stain resistance to a number of textile products and grease-resistance to paper packaging. DuPont is one of several companies that produce these materials.
The study examined a wide variety of ways consumers might be exposed through common household products such as cookware and clothing, including through the skin, in the air and orally. All ages of consumers, from infant to adult, as well as adult trade professionals, were considered. To assure accuracy and provide the most reliable test results, dozens of consumer articles were assessed using extremely conservative exposure models. The company said a peer-review panel, moderated by George Gray, executive director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, evaluated the study.
“Cookware coated with Teflon underwent rigorous scientific testing designed to see if any PFOA could be detected under exaggerated or extreme cooking conditions, and none was found,” said Jay Murray, a board-certified toxicologist and one of the three experts who provided peer consultation on the study. “In fact, even when cookware coated with Teflon was abraded [scratched] with a knife, no PFOA was detected. Cookware coated with Teflon, along with other consumer articles that were tested, is safe and poses no health risks from PFOA,” he said.
The results of this study are consistent with earlier studies by the China Academy of Inspection and Quarantine and the Danish Technological Institute that showed no exposure to PFOA from the use of non-stick cookware, according to DuPont.
The margins-of-safety for all articles tested ranged from 30,000 to more than nine billion, which dramatically exceeds the margins-of-safety of 100 to 1,000 typically used by regulatory agencies to judge the safety of chemicals.
“The study confirmed that the margins of safety calculated from the extremely low trace levels of PFOA detected on consumer end use articles are thousands of times safer than the margins of safety typically considered acceptable by regulatory agencies,” said Robert Rickard, DuPont chief toxicologist. “Based on results from the study, the use of the tested products would not result in quantifiable levels of PFOA in the blood.”
DuPont, which already has made significant reductions in PFOA emissions from its manufacturing operations, said it will reduce emissions of PFOA in the U.S. by more than 98% by the end of 2006.
DuPont, in cooperation with other major producers of fluoropolymers, has also announced that by the end of 2006, it will reformulate its dispersion products used for coating applications, reducing the potential for emissions at dispersion processors by more than 90%. In addition, DuPont will reduce trace PFOA content in end-use telomer products by more than 85%.