Modern lifestyle makes people prone to diseases. Probably the most unexplained though thoroughly studied remains cancer. Almost every day we learn that some or another thing may cause this frightening disease. Not long ago we have learned that people who eat more than 160 grams of red or processed meat a day are 35 percent more likely to develop bowel cancer than those who eat less than 20 grams a day. Now it came to Teflon.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking a cautious approach to a science panel's conclusion that a chemical used by DuPont Co. to make the non-stick substance Teflon is a likely carcinogen.
The EPA stated earlier this year that its draft risk assessment of perfluorooctanoic acid and its salts found "suggestive evidence" of potential human carcinogenicity, based on animal studies.
In a draft report released Monday, the majority of members on an EPA scientific advisory board that reviewed the agency's report concluded that PFOA, also known as C-8, is "likely" to be carcinogenic to humans, and that the EPA should conduct cancer risk assessments for a variety of tumors found in mice and rats.
EPA spokesman Rich Hood said Wednesday that the board's draft report is an "important step" in determining whether PFOA is dangerous enough to regulate, but he was unwilling to say whether it increases the likelihood of regulation.
"I think there are a lot of questions that need to be more definitively answered before we can say what the agency's final action is going to be," Hood said. "It's not a good thing to jump to unwarranted conclusions."
Environmentalists nevertheless hailed the report, which will be discussed by EPA officials and SAB members in a public teleconference July 6, saying it will increase pressure on the EPA to conduct human health risk assessments for liver, breast, pancreatic and testicular cancer, as well as potentially toxic effects on the immune system. "This makes it hard for the EPA not to move forward aggressively," said Richard Wiles, senior vice president for the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy and research organization.
A major investigation is presently underway by the EPA into how the compound, which is used to make stain and stick resistant surfaces and materials for products including Gore-Tex fabrics and pizza boxes, gets into consumers' blood and if it affects their health. The EPA has until now classified PFOA as a "suggested" carcinogen, and this demands fewer health precautions. This latest information is significant because it will probably prompt agency officials for the first time to regulate the processing agent, PFOA, says News-Medical.net.