What do we know about perfluorinated chemicals? We know that their breakdown into the environment has to be measured in geologic time frames, that some have been classified as carcinogens, and that they are now found in human blood and wildlife across the globe.
These chemicals were made for decades by large corporations such as 3M and DuPont. While they were being made and globally released, no one informed the public that toxicity tests were not done –until the year 2000. That was when perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) hit the world’s environmental consciousness:
— In May, under pressure from US EPA, 3M announced they were going to stop making their perfluorinated chemicals (a “flourishing” $300 million industry) “after it discovered a particular fluorochemical in the blood of humans and animals from pristine areas far from any apparent source.” Scientific American
— In October US EPA issued this highly unusual statement in the Federal Register:
“Due to the severity of effects EPA is proposing a
zero production level of these chemicals by 2003…”
— And communities living under the DuPont stacks releasing these chemicals in West Virginia were finding out that they had high levels of them in their drinking water affecting approximately 12,000 residences and businesses in Washington County, Ohio.
They are known by several names, such as: the Teflon Chemicals, C8, PFOS, PFOA.
This became a huge environmental story because these chemicals were used in such diverse applications -the pots and pans we cooked our food in, to stain and oil resistant fabrics and materials, various industries (metal plating, semiconductor, photography, etc.), to their inclusion in fire-fighting foam. Since 2000 we learned that they are incredibly toxic, highly persistent, and bioaccumulate in humans and wildlife.
The one national group who stood out on this issue was the Environmental Working Group, as they not only covered the issue and published reports, but they also helped communities.
On the carcinogenicity of PFOA, EWG stated,
PFOA has been used for decades as a manufacturing aid for producing a wide range of everyday products, including non-stick cookware and stain-proof coatings on furniture, clothing, carpets and packaging. Nearly every American is exposed to PFOA due to contaminated consumer products, packaged food, or drinking water. Over a lifetime of incremental exposures, PFOA builds up in human body, leading to an increased risk of cancer in multiple organs and tissues. Strong evidence for PFOA carcnogenicity is provided by occupational studies where two long-running cohort mortality studies of workers in DuPont and 3M chemical plants detected a significant increase in prostate, bladder, and other types of cancers. Similarly, 2 PFOA feeding studies in rats found an increased incidence of liver, pancreatic, testicular, and mammary cancers. In 2006, the Science Advisory Board (SAB) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared PFOA to be a likely human carcinogen. Overall, the weight of the evidence strongly supports PFOA priority review towards Proposition 65 listing which will serve to protect the health of all Californians from this toxic, carcinogenic chemical.
FAN’s Pesticide Project first came across the perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in 2000 as many were approved for use as “inerts” in pesticides. The term “inert” is wildly incorrect as they are often biologically active in the human body. The BIGGER issue with inerts is that no one is allowed to know which inert is in what pesticide and one or more inerts can make up over 99 percent of a pesticide’s formulation! The source of many of the inerts approved for US pesticides are industrial waste products and EPA has little to no toxicological data on them.
U N D E R C O N S T R U C T I O N:
Because FAN has this new website, the incredible amount of information we have available has not yet been transferred into our new Content Management System. Please visit our old links to the information.
Reports, Studies, Selected Statements
• Articles on FAN’s NewsTracker
• 2006: Newspaper articles and Documents
• 2005: Newspaper articles and Documents
• 2004: Newspaper articles and Documents
• 2003: Newspaper articles and Documents
• 2001 – 2002: Various related documents
Molecular structure of some chemicals
List of EPA chemicals