EPA Begs to Differ–With Its Own Panel

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and an independent scientific review panel that advises it have conflicting views on whether an important chemical causes cancer. A majority on the review panel believe that there is sufficient evidence to recommend that the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and its salts are “likely” carcinogens, while the EPA had determined that there was only “suggestive evidence.”

PFOA is used in the production of nonstick cookware and is a byproduct in the manufacture of stain-resistant textiles and grease-resistant food wrapping. The advisory panel wants the EPA’s risk assessment to include PFOA’s potential to cause liver, testicular, pancreatic and breast cancers, as well as to highlight its possible effects on hormones and the nervous and immune systems. It also wants more research and analysis to better understand exactly what the chemical does.

The EPA has already announced that it has asked DuPont and seven other companies that manufacture and use PFOA to reduce the environmental releases and levels of the chemicals by 95 percent by 2010, and to eliminate the use of PFOA by 2015.