Seattle Times, Feb,08.
Suspected carcinogen found in cord blood
BALTIMORE — A suspected carcinogen used to make Teflon was found in nearly all the umbilical cord blood samples tested by researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The researchers are now trying to determine whether it has harmed the newborns.
Of the 300 newborns tested, perfluorooctanoic acid, was found in the cord blood of 298.
"It's very clear that PFOA is being released into the environment, and it's pretty much ubiquitous. But we don't know if it's toxic to people at these levels," said Dr. Lynn Goldman, one of the Hopkins researchers.
A review panel advising the federal Environmental Protection Agency has found PFOA is a likely carcinogen.
Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont is the sole North American producer of PFOA, which is a processing aid used in the manufacturing of fluoropolymers, which have a wide variety of product applications, including nonstick cookware coatings such as Teflon. The chemical also can be a byproduct in the manufacturing of fluorotelomers used in surface protection products for applications such as stain-resistant textiles and grease-resistant food wrapping.
In December, DuPont agreed to pay $10.25 million in fines and $6.25 million for environmental projects to settle the EPA's allegations that the company withheld information about the potential health and environmental risks of PFOA.
DuPont also agreed in September 2004 to fund a two-phase health screening to settle a 2001 class-action lawsuit filed by Ohio and West Virginia residents who receive their water from six water districts. The lawsuit claimed PFOA releases from DuPont's Washington Works plant near Parkersburg, W.Va., contaminated public water supplies.
The company has maintained the chemical does not represent a human health risk.