Nonstick chemical pollutes water at notable levels

Concentrations approach those shown to have adverse effects in laboratory animals

3:25pm, May 12, 2009

A new study finds evidence that people may be exposed through drinking water to a persistent chemical — one used to make nonstick products  — at levels approaching concentrations that trigger adverse effects in laboratory animals.

The fluorine-based chemical, PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid, has been in production for more than 50 years. One primary use has been the production of chemicals that long served as the basis of DuPont's Teflon line of nonstick products. Ironically, earlier studies have shown that the PFOA itself sticks around a very, very long time — potentially forever.

The chemical appeared in roughly two-thirds of some 30 public water systems sampled by New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection between 2006 and 2008, researchers report online and in an upcoming issue of Environmental Science & Technology.

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