DuPont's Toxic Legacy: PFOAs
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, also known as C8), was an essential ingredient in DuPont's non-stick cookware for decades.
The chemical is also used in hundreds of other non-stick and stain-resistant products, from microwave popcorn bags and fast-food wrappers to waterproof clothing and soil-repellant carpet and furniture treatments.
It's also found in flame retardant chemicals, and hence items treated with flame retardants, which run the gamut from children's items to furniture and electronics.
PFOA is a fluorinated chemical — it's the fluorine atoms that provide that hallmark slipperiness. I first became aware of the dangers of fluoride-impregnated non-stick coatings back in 2001, and have warned about using such products ever since.
According to the CDC's "Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals,"2 published in 2009, 12 different perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) were detected in Americans, including PFOA.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR):
"Once in your body, perfluoroalkyls tend to remain unchanged for long periods of time. The most commonly used perfluoroalkyls (PFOA and PFOS) stay in the body for many years. It takes approximately four years for the level in the body to go down by half, even if no more is taken in."