SCOTCHGARD AND TEFLON
There is now a new concern for the toxicity of Scotchgard and Teflon. The ingredients in Scotchgard, manufactured by 3M since 1948, belong to a large family of chemicals that degrade to form a chemical called perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS. 3M was producing more than 10 million pounds of the compound a year. But on May 16, 2000, 3M announced that it would phase out the production of PFOS by the end of 2002, because they found PFOS in supposedly clean samples from blood banks all over the world. 3M said that these findings were “a surprise,” but the more than 1,000 documents in EPA's Administrative Record on Scotchgard, clearly show that 3M knew its products were in the blood of the general population as early as 1976 and had detected PFOS in their own plant workers as early as 1979. 3M waited more than 20 years before agreeing, under threat of regulatory action by EPA, to remove this health hazard from the marketplace.
PFOS is known to damage the liver and to produce severe birth defects in lab animals, among other health effects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says PFOS chemicals combine "persistence, bioaccumulation, and toxicity properties to an extraordinary degree." (view entire document)
Some PFOS chemicals are specifically formulated to repel oil, grease and water - a property that makes them useful as coatings for food packaging, including candy wrappers, cardboard boxes used for fast food, and bags for microwave popcorn. In addition to the well-known Scotchgard stain repellents used on carpets and furniture in the home, just a few of the other products that can contain PFOS include: window treatments, fabric wallcoverings, decorative pillows, slipcovers, bedspreads and comforters, mattress pads, shower curtains, table linens, carpet and upholstery fabrics in cars and vans, outdoor furniture, leather clothing, footwear, accessories, photographic products and other imaging materials, raincoats, skiwear, golfwear, boat covers, backpacks, tents, shirts, pants, jackets, shoes, boots, gloves, and handbags. http://www.chemicalindustryarchives.org/dirtysecrets/scotchgard/1.asp
In addition, in June 2005, a panel of scientists independent of chemical industry money, advising the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, found that DuPont's Teflon chemical, PFOA, is a "likely human carcinogen." The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now conducting the largest chemical safety investigation to date into the Teflon chemical known as PFOA. At the same time, the EPA is suing Teflon maker DuPont for illegally suppressing health and drinking water pollution data and information that might have prompted EPA action against the Teflon chemical decades earlier, had it been submitted as required.
See http://www.ewg.org/issues/pfcs/20021113/20021213.php on Teflon.
The Environmental Working Group site on Teflon and Scotchgard (PFCs) is at http://www.ewg.org/issues/siteindex/issues.php?issueid=5014 and on scotchgard is at http://www.chemicalindustryarchives.org/dirtysecrets/scotchgard/1.asp.
For an explanation of facts and fictions about chemicals in the US see http://www.chemicalindustryarchives.org/factfiction/
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