Children and adolescents who’ve been exposed to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), commonly used in non-stick pans and stain-resistant fabrics, had higher cholesterol levels than those who have not, according to a new study published in the Archive of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Researchers found a link between higher levels of PFOA in the blood and higher cholesterol levels — a risk factor in heart disease — among more than 12,000 participants aged 1 to 18.

Although PFOA, an endocrine disruptor, has well-documented health risks, it remains legal in consumer products. And exposure is the norm, not the exception: in a series of studies conducted by the Environmental Working Group, 100 percent of those tested had the stuff in their bloodstream. The new study is the first to focus on children and teens.

Chemical manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA. It can’t come soon enough as far as we’re concerned. Until then, avoid cooking with Teflon-coated pans and steer clear of stain-resistant fabrics.

Photo © David Benbennick