The majority of people in the United States have PFOA in their blood. That’s right – the nonstick chemical DuPont used until 2013 that even the EPA condemned. We were told that if used properly, a nonstick pan is safe, but scientists are puzzling over why we still have PFOA in our blood. In the meantime, DuPont is at it again. In 2009 they released a chemical to replace PFOA. Called GenX, it’s used to make Teflon, and already scientists and university professors are raising concerns about its safety.
DuPont has already submitted16 reports that link GenX to cancer, weight gain, reproductive problems, changes in the sizes of kidneys and livers, changes in cholesterol levels, and changes to the response of the immune system in lab rats. Yet their chemical company, Chemours, which creates GenX, says the chemical is fine for use. The reports of danger have been dismissed for varying reasons, including a claim that the findings in lab rats aren’t relevant to humans. But experts aren’t convinced.
An Environmental Health Sciences professor at the West Virginia University School of Public Health said the scientists who signed off on one of the reports, a DuPont toxicologist, was “cherry picking” and that the way DuPont has handled research around GenX “has an eerie echo” to the way they handled their breed of PFOA, called C8.
Laura Vandenburg, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is a reproductive biologist who looked at the claim that female lab rats arrived at puberty later when subjected to GenX. DuPont had dismissed that study, which was only performed with large doses.
“That might make sense if what we were worried about was whether this chemical maims or kills you outright. But that’s not what we’re seeing. People don’t cook on Teflon and drop dead. These are chemicals that interfere with normal biological functions at low doses and contribute to disease,” said Vandenburg. “You have to study them at low doses.”
Deborah Rice used to work for the EPA as a senior risk assessor. As a retired toxicologist, she doesn’t like what she sees. “It’s the same constellation of effects you see with PFOA. There’s no way you can call this a safe substitute,” she said.
If a chemical is found to be dangerous, there are a few different steps the EPA can take. They can set limits on amounts used. They can make companies clean areas affected. And of course, they can ban it. So far, it has taken no such measures for GenX.
Via The Intercept