Is your cookware giving you cancer? Six years. That's how long it's been since I first started warning you about dangerous PFOA chemical hiding in our food and water supply that could be making you sick.
This chemical—a favorite of food and product manufacturers—can mess with your metabolism and disturb your immune system. High levels of it in your blood, increases your risk of high cholesterol, thyroid disease, and fertility problems.
And even more frightening, it's been linked with both arthritis and cancer. Heck, even the government admits that it causes cancer... in animals.
(To admit that it does in people too means they'd have to come up with some stiffer regulations that their powerful lobbyist buddies in Washington would definitely not like.)
I'm talking about C-8P or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA for short). The chemical that manufacturers like DuPont line non-stick pans with can also contain the PFOA chemical, and it can be found in grease resistant food packaging.
It's in your favorite frying pan (and if that pan is at all scratched, every piece of food you cook in it), in that stain-resistant fabric on your sofa, in the glass of water you drink with dinner every night, the shampoo you wash your hair with, and even inside your favorite snack food bag... microwave popcorn.
In fact, any grease-repellant food packaging you come across probably has PFOA in it.
Creepy chemical linked to health problems
Back in 2006, I reported in the Guide to Good Health that a panel of experts had presented the EPA with evidence that PFOAs are "likely human carcinogens." And the government responded by... yes, you guessed it... doing next to nothing.
Last year, researchers at the University of West Virginia reported that the creepy chemical might be to blame for those stiff and aching arthritic hands you wake up to every morning. Yes, PFOA may very well be contributing to your painful arthritis.
And I'll give you just one guess what the government's response to this new shocking revelation was.
Yup, again, nothing of note. No warning labels, no tough legislation, not even a really strong warning for those dumping these dangerous chemicals into the environment, and our bodies.
Oh, eventually, in 2009, the EPA did create an "action plan" for addressing these chemicals. What does that mean exactly? Well, in the EPA's own words it apparently means that the, "EPA intends to consider initiating rulemaking..."
Yes, that's right, they will "consider initiating." Way to go and take a real stand on this issue EPA.
Exposure to PFOA may cause cancer
Now, according to Food Production Daily, an independent group of public health scientists has concluded that there's a "probable link" between the PFOA chemical and cancer. Specifically, the scientists say, the chemical is likely linked to both kidney and testicular cancers.
The scientists began looking into the PFOA problem after the community around Dupont's Washington Works plant in West Virginia filed a class action suit against the company. Until just a few years ago Dupont had been releasing PFOA into the air and water stretching all the way back to the 1950's.
After looking at the data on people who have lived in six water districts close to the plant, the researchers said that it's more likely than not that exposure to the chemical is linked to the two cancers.
So EPA it's your move. What are you going to do about it? I know, you'll likely consider initiating something, right?
Reduce your risks
The fact is this chemical has been shown time and time again to pose health dangers to both animals and humans. And although DuPont, along with seven other companies, has voluntarily agreed to phase out use of the chemical by 2015, it's too little too late.
The people in the West Virginia community surrounding the DuPont plant have been suffering the consequences of this exposure for years. And it's likely the rest of us have been too. In fact, studies show that an astounding 95 percent of us have PFOA chemicals in our blood stream as well.
And cleaning this mess up is not so easy. PFOA is what is known as a "persistent contaminant" which simply means it's tough to get rid of. It hangs out in the environment and in your body for a long time.
In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to at least reduce your exposure. Avoid cooking in non-stick pans, opt for non-stain resistant fabrics on your furniture and carpets, avoid fast food and other foods that commonly come in grease-resistant packaging, check your shampoo and cosmetic labels and toss any that list "fluoro" or "perfluoro" in the ingredients, and start filtering your water with a trustworthy water filter.
And, of course, keep your immune system in tip-top shape by eating right and taking high-quality supplements, to maintain optimal health.