Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Teflon Sticking Inside Us

Teflon was recently banned by the EPA, at least prospectively. It is supposedly going to be eliminated by the year 2015. I say supposedly because the EPA is notorious in not enforcing such bans. Asbestos was first "banned" by the EPA in 1972, but banned again and again over several decades, as follows:

[] The manufacturing of asbestos-containing, spray-applied insulation and fireproofing was banned in 1972. Since 1972, the following bans were placed on asbestos by the EPA:

1973 - Spray-applied materials for fireproofing and insulation

1975 - Molded and wet applied asbestos such as pipe joint insulation

1976 - Asbestos for mechanical system insulation

1978 - Acoustical and decorative applications

1989 - Many other types of non-friable asbestos to be phased out in 3 stages by 1997

1991 - the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals required the EPA to reevaluate the bans. The EPA clarified the restrictions and the following additional items were banned:

1993 - Paper Products, Flooring Felts and New Uses of Asbestos

but reportedly was still being sold as late as 2000. And that's not even getting into vermiculite contaminated with tremolite asbestos, which was sold into this decade.)

EPA tries to curb use of Teflon chemical

In a surprise turn Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency moved to eliminate the production of a suspected carcinogen used in the making of Teflon and other non-stick and non-stain coatings.

The EPA has asked eight manufacturers that use a family of chemicals known as perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, to reduce production 95% by 2010 and to stop using it altogether by 2015.

PFOA, which is found in the blood of more than 95% of Americans, has been tied to cancer and developmental damage in animal studies. It is used in the process that makes water-, stain- and grease-resistant products, everything from microwave popcorn bags to pizza box liners, non-stick cookware to pillows, upholstery to carpets.

Like just about everyone else in this country, I have Teflon pans in my cupboard. I'm putting them away, and getting out my cast iron, after reading this in yesterday's WaPo:

Suspected Carcinogen Found in Cord Blood

BALTIMORE -- A suspected carcinogen used to make Teflon was found in nearly all the umbilical cord blood samples tested by researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The researchers are now trying to determine whether it has harmed the newborns.

Of the 300 newborns tested, perfluorooctanoic acid, was found in the cord blood of 298.

What are the alternatives to Teflon?

What's the Deal With Teflon?

Calphalon One seems to be the most economical non-stick alternative. It's made of infused anodized aluminum, is a little stickier, but contains only aluminum, pressure-cast. Enameled cast iron and stainless steel with copper bottom are also good alternatives.

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