to Put Warning Labels on Teflon Pans |
Fri May 16, 2003 11:52 AM ET
By Christopher Doering
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An environmental group on Thursday
asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission to require that
cookware coated with Teflon and similar chemicals carry a
label describing potential health risks of the non-stick
The Environmental Working Group said in a study released on
Thursday that cookware coated with Teflon-like coatings could
reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit in 3-5 minutes, releasing 15
toxic gases and chemicals, including two carcinogens.
In its study, the advocacy group said that internal
documents from DuPont Co., which produces Teflon, show that
toxic particles that can kill birds are given off at
temperatures as low as 464 degrees.
Because of the threat to birds, and possibly humans, each
pan should carry a label detailing the potential health risks,
the advocacy group said.
Studies investigating the long-term impacts on humans have
not been conducted. Still, Teflon and other nonstick chemicals
can lead to flu-like symptoms such as fever or shortness of
breath, a condition called polymer fume fever.
"If Teflon fumes kill birds, what do they do to people?"
said Jane Houlihan, a vice president with the Environmental
Working Group who said consumers often exceed 500 degrees
Fahrenheit when they cook.
DuPont has long acknowledged that cookware heated below 500
degrees is harmful to birds, but not humans because the
chemical has not yet begun to break apart.
A company official said it is not safe to use cookware in
temperatures above 500 degrees, and most consumers rarely
exceed this level while cooking as the group argued.
"We know of no adverse conditions or long-term affects
associated with polymer fume fever, and if that were the case,
we would have known about it and would have reported it," said
Cliff Web, a spokesman for DuPont.
In April, the Environmental Protection Agency launched an
in-depth study to determine the safety of chemical C8, which
is used in hundreds of products including Teflon.
Government officials said toxicity concerns have been
raised, but there is currently no proof the chemical causes
developmental or reproductive harm in humans as the
Environmental Working Group and others have argued.