The independent peer-reviewed study, sponsored by DuPont, concludes that the use of consumer articles made with DuPont materials would not result in quantifiable exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
DuPont initiated the study, conducted by Environ, an independent research firm, 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 DuPont 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 globally that produce these materials.
The study examined a wide variety of ways consumers could 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.
Dozens of consumer articles were assessed using what DuPont describes as ‘extremely conservative exposure models’. A peer-review panel, moderated by Dr. 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 Dr. 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.”
DuPont says the results of the 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.
The margins-of-safety for all articles tested ranged from 30,000 to over 9 billion, which DuPont says ‘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. Based on results from the study, the use of the tested products would not result in quantifiable levels of PFOA in the blood,” said Dr. Robert Rickard, DuPont chief toxicologist.
DuPont says it has already made significant reductions in PFOA emissions from its manufacturing operations. By year-end 2006, DuPont says it will have reduced emissions of PFOA in the United States by more than 98 percent.
DuPont, in co-operation with other major producers of fluoropolymers, has also announced that by 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 percent. Similarly, the company says it will reduce trace PFOA content in end-use telomer products by more than 85 percent by the end of 2006.