Wednesday, November 23, 2005

PFOA still sticking around

Chemical body burdens are not everyone's cup of tea. You may not be "into the subject," as the idiom goes. Unfortunately, the subject is into you, or at least 95% of you. There are now many chemicals comfortably residing in almost everyone's bodies that don't belong there. More surprising, for many we don't know exactly how they got there, although we know where they came from: consumer products and improperly managed chemical wastes.

One of the most prominent body burden chemicals these days are the perfluorooctanoic acids, or PFOAs, used in non-stick products like teflon coated cookware and stain resistant fabrics. Now, it turns out, PFOAs are produced when chemicals are ingested after grease resistant paper coatings used in microwave popcorn bags, fast food and candy wrappers and pizza box liners heated. Didn't know that? Well the DuPont company knew it and concealed it 20 years ago, according to chemical engineer Glenn Evers who worked for the company at the time. (USA Today)
At a briefing arranged by the watchdog Environmental Working Group, Evers said that in 1987, DuPont scientists were testing two potential products to see how much perfluorinated chemical leaches out when they are exposed to water and heat, as they are when used to wrap hot foods.

The scientists used the company's widely used Zonyl RP grease-resistant coating as a benchmark because it was supposed to leach out the chemicals at a rate of 0.2 parts per million or less. But when the tests results came back, Evers said, they showed that the popular product leached out at 0.62 parts per million, three times the amount allowed by the Food and Drug Administration.

The two products tested were never put on the market for unrelated reasons, but Zonyl RP is still in use.
Documents to corroborate Evers's story were made available by the Environmental Working Group on their website. DuPont is already being sued by Bush's EPA for withholding other health information, so you can imagine how flagrant the infractions are. Not that the Bushies have shown much appetite for sticking it to DuPont on their non-stick products:
Bush EPA political appointees could seek the maximum possible fine of $314 million, but they have shown little appetite for pursuing such a penalty. The next court date for the civil suit was negotiated to fall on Wednesday, November 23, the day before the Thanksgiving holiday and the busiest travel day of the year. (EWG)
Typical. Will Bush pardon these turkeys today?