What is Teflon?
Teflon is a brand name registered to DuPont for a non-stick and stain-resistant material used in making apparel, cookware, household items, automotive parts, personal care, and certain industrial applications.
Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)
Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) also known as C8 is a synthetic chemical that is used in making fluoropolymers. Fluoropolymers help make materials resistant to water, stain, oil, grease, and fire.
Certain consumer products are made with fluoropolymers such as breathable all-weather clothing and non-stick cookware like those that are coated with Teflon. These products are not PFOA in itself, but PFOA is just used in the process of making the flouropolymers used as a material in making these products.
The Safety of PFOA
PFOA has become more common in the environment that it is even found at very low levels even in the blood of the general population. PFOA does not decompose through photolysis or hydrolysis and is non-biodegradable. Because of this, the possible risks associated with exposure to PFOA are being investigated since the late 90s by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Studies in animals showed that PFOA may cause developmental disorders and other negative effects, and could remain in the body for extended periods of time.
The EPA is not sure how people get exposed to PFOA and where they could get exposed that is why the EPA has not issued and recommendation for the protection from exposure to PFOA. In addition to that, it has not been determined if PFOA puts the public at any reasonable risk, and the EPA stated that there is no pressing reason for people to stop using products that may contain PFOA.
However, some believe that PFOA may likely cause cancer in people, that’s why the EPA has described PFOA as “suggestive…of carcinogenicity, but not sufficient to assess human carcinogenic potential.”
Is Teflon Safe?
There have been doubts on the safety of cookware coated with Teflon, and a class-action suit has been filed against DuPont, alleging that PFOA is released when the cookware is heated above a certain temperature. Note that this is not a personal injury lawsuit and that there has been no injury due to PFOA exposure. DuPont claimed that Teflon does not contain PFOA and insists that with proper use, cookware coated with Teflon is safe.
However, there have been reports of a polymer fume fever—temporary flu-like symptoms—caused by ingesting or inhaling fumes from cookware coated with Teflon that has been subjected to unusually high temperatures (above 500º F or 260º C). The symptoms of polymer fume fever usually present after 4 to 8 hours from exposure and disappear after 48 hours without treatment.
Lawsuits Over PFOA Exposure
There have been lawsuits related to PFOA exposure, although not directly related to the use of Teflon-coated cookware.
Residents of Parkersburg, West Virginia filed a class-action suit against DuPont in June 2006 claiming that the Washington Works plant caused the contamination of PFOA in the water supply. The residents asserted that PFOA is released during the manufacturing process of Teflon and that it has made the residents sick and caused damage to properties.
In the previous year, in March 2005, the residents of Parkersburg, West Virginia have filed a class-action suit against DuPont’s Washington Works plant because traces of PFOA have been found in their drinking water. The settlement for this suit reached $107.6 million.
Get Legal Help for Teflon and PFOA Exposure
If you or your loved ones have been exposed to PFOA or Teflon and begin experiencing symptoms related to this exposure, consult with a medical care provider as soon as possible. You may also want to consult with a lawyer to help you in legal matters to protect your rights and to get the proper legal remedy for the injuries you have suffered.