The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering including the active ingredient in 3M Co.’s newly reformulated Scotchgard in a study of chemicals suspected of having health effects.
The CDC started publishing its “National Exposure Report” in 2001. The third report is due out in January 2005.
The last report tracked 116 chemicals. It showed, for instance, that the levels of secondhand smoke in people’s bodies has been dropping and that phthalates, a plastics softener used in baby toys, is showing up in human blood.
The new Scotchgard chemical is perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS), and it is the first time the CDC has proposed tracking a chemical that has only recently been introduced to the market.
3M switched to PFBS after the Environmental Protection Agency pressed it in 2000 to stop using the original chemistry behind its Scotchgard stain repellants.
The original chemical was a related substance called perfluorooctane sulfonate, which accumulates in the environment, doesn’t decompose and is linked to tissue problems, developmental delays and some forms of cancer.
The new PFBS is one of 35 chemicals that a panel of scientists put on a top priority list for the CDC study, according to the Environmental Working Group, an activist group in that lobbied for the chemical’s inclusion. Of those 35 chemicals, 18 of them are perfluoro chemicals, the group said.