Thursday, January 26, 2006

E.P.A. Seeks to Phase Out a Toxic Chemical

The New York Times
E.P.A. Seeks to Phase Out a Toxic Chemical

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 — The Environmental Protection Agency has asked DuPont and seven other chemical companies to stop using a toxic substance in the making of everyday products, including Teflon-coated pans, that has been linked in some studies to cancer, strokes and other health problems.

Announcing the voluntary program, officials of the agency said Wednesday that full compliance by the companies and their overseas affiliates would lead to a 95 percent reduction by 2010 in use of the substance, perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and to their total elimination by 2015.

DuPont immediately pledged to join the program, saying it had already reduced its PFOA manufacturing emissions by 94 percent and had developed new technologies that could reduce PFOA content in products by more than 97 percent. The other companies are expected to commit to the program as well. They are 3M/Dyneon, Arkema, Asahi, Ciba, Clariant, Daikin and Solvay Solexis.

PFOA makes high-performance plastics resistant to fire, grease and stains. Its presence may be best known in Teflon, made by DuPont, but it is also found in fabrics, leather, automobile parts, wire insulation and microwave popcorn bags.

Uncertainties still surround the way PFOA exposure affects humans, and as part of the new program, the companies will provide test data so that those questions can be explored.

"The science is still coming in, but the concern is there, so acting now to minimize future releases of PFOA is the right thing to do," said Susan B. Hazen, acting assistant administrator of the agency's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances.