January 30, 2006
Press Release: Environmental Working Group
Expert Panel Urges EPA to Strengthen Safety
Review of Teflon Chemical
Majority Calls Widespread Pollutant "Likely Human Carcinogen"
(WASHINGTON, Jan. 30) — Today, a panel of outside experts
gave draft comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
saying that an indestructible, toxic chemical that pollutes nearly
every American's blood is a "likely human carcinogen."
The panel urged the agency to adopt stricter guidelines to protect
human health, according to a majority of its members. This
announcement follows news just last week that the EPA signed a
voluntary agreement with the chemical's maker, DuPont, and seven
other companies to reduce the chemical's use in products by 95
percent over the next five years and aim for total elimination
of its use by 2015.
"This indestructible nonstick chemical meets the government's
criteria of a'likely human carcinogen,'" said Tim Kropp,
senior scientist at Environmental Working Group (EWG). "We
are pleased that the Science Advisory Board (SAB) concurred with
many of the concerns we have raised about the hazards of PFOA.
There is growing consensus that health officials should err on
the side of precaution with any industrial chemical that ends
up in human blood, but especially chemicals like PFOA that are
toxic and indestructible. We applaud the EPA for reaching an agreement
with industry to dramatically lower the amount of this chemical
in popular consumer products, and we urge the agency to adopt
a similarly strong stance to protect the public from possible
health risks associated with this chemical."
Specifically, the EPA's outside expert panel told the agency
• Consider immune and nervous system effects on animals
in its study of possible human health risks; and
• Use a more health-protective and scientifically valid
approach to studying human health risks from the chemical.
Most of the experts on the panel called
PFOA a "likely human carcinogen," not a "suggested
human carcinogen," as the EPA had proposed.
Richard Wiles, EWG's senior vice president,
called on the EPA to bar from any future relationship with any
EPA advisory panel two SAB panel members who are scientific advisors
to the chemical industry front group the American Council on Science
and Health (ACSH). The two panel members, Michael Kamrin
and Ernest Abel, have consistently downplayed the toxicity of
PFOA, in stark contrast to the concerns expressed by the majority
of panel members.
Gilbert Ross, ACSH's medical director, was recently exposed as
a convicted felon who served jail time for Medicaid fraud and
perjury in the 1990s and lost his medical license in New York.
Teflon and other nonstick cookware; clothing and carpeting that
have stain-repellent coatings; fast food packaging that repels
grease and oil; cleaning products; cosmetics and many other consumer
products are made with chemicals that break down into PFOA in
This chemical pollutes over 95 percent of Americans' blood, including
all 10 newborns surveyed in a study EWG commissioned last summer.
PFOA never breaks down in the environment, so every molecule of
it produced since the 1950s or earlier will forever be in our
air, water and bodies. In animals, PFOA causes cancer, birth defects
and other health problems.
See January 20, 2006: US
EPA Science Advisory Board Review of EPA's Draft Risk Assessment
of Potential Human Health Effects Associated with PFOA and Its
EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington,
D.C., that uses the power of information to protect human health
and the environment. The group's five years' worth of research
on PFOA and related chemicals is available at http://www.ewg.org/issues/siteindex/issues.php/issueid=5014/.