Manufacturers agree to phase out nonstick chemical

Complying with a request from the Environmental Protection Agency, the companies that make perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) have agreed to work toward ending production of the chemical worldwide by 2015. The agency requested the voluntary phaseout in late January, days before the majority of the scientists on one of its advisory boards deemed PFOA a “likely carcinogen.”

All eight manufacturers have also agreed to cut PFOA emissions and use in commercial products by 95 percent within 5 years, the EPA announced on March 2.

PFOA is used to make the nonstick coatings on microwave popcorn bags, cookware, fabrics, and other goods. The chemical, which contaminates water, air, and wildlife, is ubiquitous in people’s blood (SN: 11/26/05, p. 341: Available to subscribers at Nonstick Taints: Fluorochemicals are in us all), but scientists aren’t sure how it gets into the bloodstream.

DuPont of Wilmington, Del., the sole U.S.–based manufacturer and the first to sign on to the phaseout program, agreed last December to pay a fine of $16.5 million to settle charges (SN: 7/31/04, p. 78: Available to subscribers at EPA to fine DuPont over ingredient in Teflon) that it withheld data on releases of PFOA and their effects on people. -B.H.

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