January 25, 2006

US wants output of non-stick compound slashed

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. environmental regulators asked
companies on Wednesday to voluntarily commit to reduce releases
of a potentially hazardous compound used to make non-stick
cookware by 95 percent by 2010.

Under what it calls a global stewardship program, the
Environmental Protection Agency is asking producers of
perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, to slash releases and levels
of the compound in products by 95 percent, using 2000 as the
basis year.

It also encourages the companies that make PFOA, such as
DuPont Co., to work toward the elimination of all releases of
PFOA by 2015.

Last month, DuPont agreed to pay $16.5 million to settle
with the EPA over reporting data about the compound.

EPA said it is continuing to study PFOA's impact on human
health to see if it needs to take more action on the compound.

"The science on PFOA is still coming in," Susan Hazen,
EPA's acting assistant administrator in the Office of
Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, told reporters on
a conference call.

PFOA can remain in the human body for up to four years,
according to the EPA, and small amounts of the chemical are
found in a large portion of the general public.

DuPont said its studies and those of independent
researchers confirm that cookware and other consumer products
made with DuPont materials are safe. In addition, it said, PFOA
to date has had no known health effects on humans.

Although its case with the EPA is settled, DuPont still
faces class-action lawsuits, filed last July, charging that the
chemical producer hid the potential health hazards of PFOA.

The plaintiffs are calling for DuPont to pay damages to
class members, create a fund for medical monitoring of
consumers who purchased products containing PFOA, and put
warning labels on cookware.

Tests by 3M Co., the original manufacturer of PFOA, have
shown high levels of exposure to the chemical may cause liver
damage and reproductive problems in rats.