Even if you stop using Teflon frying pans, or similar coated products, this chemical will not be going away, or out of your system, any time soon.
Environmental toxins are everywhere; it is, in fact, impossible to avoid them. We can make choices in our own homes to limit the exposure, but unfortunately the chemicals from processing plants are throughout the world. What happens in one part of our country ultimately will affect the entire world. Recently, I read an amazing article called The Teflon Toxin: DuPont and the Chemistry of Deception, by Sharon Lerner. It was a fascinating article about the chemical compound C8, also known as perflourooctanoic acid, or PFOA for short.
This chemical is a man-made compound that is a surfactant. This means that it is non-stick. It has been produced by several companies. DuPont and 3M are two of the main producers. Lerner’s article talks about the health issues that have been reported, but also what has not been reported by the producers. I am concerned about the employees, families, and local communities that have been exposed to high amounts of this chemical. But what scares me more is that in 2007 the Centers for Disease Control did a study that found 99.7 percent of Americans have C8 in their blood. This study included newborns.
How are we all exposed to this chemical? Part of it has to do with waste disposable of the chemical. For years DuPont was putting the waste into barrels then dumping the barrels into the oceans. After that, they moved to using landfills after a fisherman brought up a barrel in their fishing nets. Knowing that this chemical has been in the oceans means that it most likely is everywhere in the world. How do we, as a world, clean up this mess especially when C8 is a chemically stable compound that “is expected to remain on the planet well after humans are gone from it.” I guess the Scout motto of leaving the environment in a better state than how you found it did not cross the minds of these companies as they were exposing the world.
Experiments done on rats with the C8 compound show enlargement of testes, adrenal glands, and kidneys. Human research on employees at the producing plants also found elevated liver enzymes, and, in women, birth defects. The article talks about the litigation that is ongoing between DuPont and a plaintiff about the lack of information as well as miss-information that was given to them as they were exposed to the chemicals, and got sick.
It should go without saying that chemicals can be useful in our world. I’m writing this on a computer right now. Full of chemicals that I’ve been assured are relatively safe to be around. The paint on this desk, and the walls around me, but also the filter with which the conditioned air blows through. All have been “tested” to be safe for human exposure in their designed capacities. But without understanding the long term effects of these chemicals on the human body, and also on the environment, how much exposure is safe?
Mother Nature has given us a lot of useful things found within plants, and our environment. I hope more research goes into these natural items so that we can leave our world a better place for the next generations.
Source: The Intercept (Sharon Lerner)