With headlines stating "Compound in Teflon A 'Likely Carcinogen'" (June 29) and "Teflon likely to cause cancer" (June 30), it is crucial to clarify a few issues surrounding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientific advisory board's recent draft report identifying PFOA (also referred to as C-8) as a "likely carcinogen":
1) While the headlines imply that the EPA has actually found non-stick cookware itself to be cancer-causing, PFOA is used in the manufacturing process of products such as Teflon, but it is not actually found in Teflon itself. For more information about the safety of PFOA, see ACSH's recent publication Teflon and Human Health: Do the Charges Stick? Assessing the Safety of the Chemical PFOA.
2) The EPA's classification of a chemical as a "likely carcinogen" does not necessarily indicate that there are data that humans exposed to a chemical are at a higher risk for cancer, nor does it indicate that the levels of the chemical to which humans are exposed are cause for concern. As discussed in the American Council on Science and Health's recent book, America's War on "Carcinogens", data from animal cancer tests must be applied to humans with caution and many factors taken into account, including dose and biological differences between humans and animals.
Rivka Weiser is an assistant director of public health at the American Council on Science and Health.
UPDATE: ACSH president Elizabeth Whelan addresses the Teflon issue in her new article on Spiked-Online.
Teflon and Human Health: Do the Charges Stick?
Traces of Environmental Chemicals in the Human Body: Are They a Risk to Health?
America's War on "Carcinogens": Reassessing The Use of Animal Tests to Predict Human Cancer Risk