Replacement for nasty chemical may be no less nasty, says EWG
Under pressure from the U.S. EPA, eight chemical companies are phasing out perfluorooctanoic acid in nonstick, oil-resistant, and stain-resistant products — but industry-favored substitutes may be no safer, says a new report from the Environmental Working Group. The chemical, known for brevity as PFOA or C8, has been linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and immune disorders. Very little research exists on the health effects of Big Chemical’s favored replacement, which drops two carbon atoms and is called C6. But C8 and C6 compounds both share scary characteristics: They’re “extraordinarily persistent in the environment, they’re already found in people’s blood, and they cross the placenta to contaminate babies before birth,” says EWG’s Olga Naidenko. Meanwhile, phaseout or not, C8 is still causing problems: it’s suspected to be contaminating groundwater near a DuPont plant in New Jersey, and the chemical company is also investigating high rates of cancer at a plant in West Virginia.