SALES Talk; after Asbestos, Cancer Lawsuits Bankrupt 60 Firms, Plaintiffs Now Target Teflon Frying Pans

Manila Bulletin, August 7, 2005 | Go to article overview

SALES Talk; after Asbestos, Cancer Lawsuits Bankrupt 60 Firms, Plaintiffs Now Target Teflon Frying Pans


Emboldened by the successes in court judgments in the United States and Australia by cancer sufferers who had been exposed to asbestos, silica and other toxic substances manufactured by big corporations through the past few years, a dozen individuals have now filed lawsuits accusing the giant American chemical firm DuPont of failing to warn them of possible dangers from so-called perfluoro-octanoic acid (PTOA) used in coating non-stick frying pans popularly marketed as Teflon.

A report from the outdoor international magazine Nature written by Mark Peplow cited researches conducted by Scott Mabury, an environmental chemist from the University of Toronto, Canada showing that Teflon pans heated to higher than normal cooking temperatures could release traces of PTOA along with a host of related compounds such as trifluoroacetic acid.

Mr. Maburys story also cited the release of a report by the United States Environmental Protection Agency handed to it by its Science Advisory Board which concluded that previous studies on rats showed that PTOA was a "likely carcinogen. Currently, PTOA is categorized as a "possible carcinogen.

Faced with a US$5-billion lawsuit, the story goes, counsel for DuPont countered that cookwares coated with Teflon non-stick coatings do not contain PTOA.

In a statement released last July 6th, the account went on, DuPont said that up until now, no human health defects were known to be caused by PTOA even if workers are exposed to higher levels than the general population.

Last year, Mr. Peplow reported that DuPont reached an out-of-court settlement with residents living near its chemical plant in West Virginia. DuPont did not accept liability from claims among residents that the company allegedly contaminated local water supplies with PTOA.

Peplows story published in the periodical Nature said the plaintiffs called on DuPont to pay damages as well as place warnings on labels of Teflon products, aside from setting up a fund for monitoring the effects of toxic chemicals.

Counsel for DuPont plans to argue that its client had known for years that chemicals involved in the manufacture of Teflon or released when overheated have been linked to cancer in laboratory studies on rats.

In a related development carried by wire dispatched from Sydney, Australia, the giant building products manufacturing company James Hardie Industries had agreed to compensate thousands of Australians who suffered from crippling lung diseases exposed to asbestos it manufactured decades ago but which it no longer produces. …

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