PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, is a perfluorinated compound, a chemical used for its properties that make materials stick and strain resistant. PFOA is used in Teflon. In 2006, the U.S. EPA, DuPont (manufacturer of Teflon), and seven other companies announced an agreement to reduce PFOA in emissions from manufacturing plants and in consumer products by 95 percent by 2010. Perfluorinated compounds like PFOA are highly persistent in the environment.
Humans are exposed to PFOA and other perfluorinated compounds from food packaging, stain-resistant furniture, carpet, clothing, shoes, luggage, camping, and sporting equipment, and from non-stick cookware (particularly when the cookware is heated above 450F). Humans are also exposed in dental floss and many cosmetics, including nail polish, facial moisturizers, and eye make-up.
Human Health Effects
According to Pollution in People, PFOA is a likely human carcinogen. It causes liver, pancreatic, testicular, and mammary gland tumors in laboratory animals. Perfluorinated compounds are also linked to a number of other problems in laboratory animals, including liver and kidney damage and reproductive problems. The half-life for PFOA in a human body, or the time it would take to expel half of any amount consumed or absorbed by the body, is estimated at more than four years.
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- Nathaniel Rich, "The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare," New York Times, January 6, 2016.
- Sharon Kelley, "Teflon's Toxic Legacy," Earth Island Journal, 2016.
- Study affirms state's aim to reduce perfluorinated compounds, Washington State Dept of Ecology, August 10, 2010.
- Perﬂuorinated Compounds (PFCs) and Human Health Concerns, Global Health and Safety Initiative, Health Care Without Harm, April 2009.
- Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs), Pollution in People]
- Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs), Washington Toxics Coalition.
- PFCs: Global Contaminants, Environmental Working Group, April 2003.
- John P. Giesy, P. D. Jones, J. L. Newsted, and K. Kannan, Perfluorinated Compounds: An Overview of Environmental and Analytical Issues, Michigan State University Institute of Environmental Toxicology.