Monday, December 21, 2009

DuPont is killing us softly

People seem to value convenience at the expense of their health. Walk into any shop that sells cookware and you will soon realise that the best selling saucepans and frying pans are Teflon-coated. Many consumers think that if food sticks to the pan, then there must be something wrong with the pan, and would never question their cooking skills.
One can only wonder how they would have managed if DuPont had never developed Teflon.

A non-stick pan that doesn't require any scrubbing after use?? It sounds too good to be true. But it IS true. So, you might want to ask, where is the catch? At high heat, Teflon breaks down into PFOA, a well-known carcinogen.

A scientific advisory panel to the US Environmental Protection Agency unanimously recommended that PFOA should be considered a likely human carcinogen. This classification means that there is evidence of cancer causing effects from both human and animal studies.

Leaked documents exposed that DuPont hid studies showing the risks of PFOA leaching into food.
DuPont was fined $10.25 million dollars by the EPA for withholding information about potential health and environmental hazards of PFOA. This is the largest fine ever assessed by the EPA. To put the fine in context, in 2004 alone, Teflon accounted for $1 billion dollars in sales for DuPont. That's why DuPont can effectively lobby governments around the world to minimize the risks posed by Teflon.

Teflon’s breakdown chemical is a serious concern for a number of reasons. In addition to evidence that it is a likely cause of cancer, it falls into the category of chemicals which are persistent and accumulative. This means that rather than breaking down into harmless substances over time, they remain as they and accumulate in the environment. This is why studies which found PFOA in new born infants and in polar bears are so significant. Since neither newborns or polar bears use teflon coated objects, the presence of PFOA in their bodies shows that the substance builds up in the body and that exposure comes from environmental buildup of the chemical.

Rolf Halden, a research in the John’s Hopkins study of Teflon in infants commented, “We make a lot of chemicals that are extremely persistent, and we mass-produce them, but we never consider the life cycles of these chemicals. It’s kind of a tragedy. In some instances, it take years or decades before we learn of their toxicity”

DuPont Co. says that to date PFOA has had no known health effects on humans. Yeah, right.

Lots more on teflon at http://www.ewg.org/issues/siteindex/issues.php?issueid=5014.

In the meantime, i will stick to copper pans because they conduct heat quickly, or cast iron pans. They pose no health problem and after they've been used a few times, they develop a natural slippery surface that's nearly as good as a non-stick pan.

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