An EPA advisory panel has identified a compound used in Teflon as a “likely carcinogen.”
I’ve known for some time that superheating a nonstick pan can kill your canaries, since it releases a toxic gas at high temperatures (which you can pretty much only achieve by turning the stove onto high and leaving an empty pan on the burner, but people do fuck up from time to time). But Teflon is used in all kinds of products, such as Gore-Tex fabrics and pizza boxes, not to mention stain protectors for fabrics and carpets.
But the worst thing about this is, surprise, surprise, the coverup. The company that makes Teflon — DuPont! — knew about this for quite some time:
The EPA is in the midst of a major investigation into how the compound, which is used to make stain- and stick-resistant surfaces and materials for products including Gore-Tex fabrics and pizza boxes, gets into consumers’ blood and whether it affects their health. It is also seeking millions of dollars in fines from DuPont Co., which makes PFOA in Parkersburg, W.Va., on the grounds that the chemical giant failed for 20 years to report possible health and environmental problems linked to the compound.
God only knows what the cancer rate among their employees is. Or whether they bothered to tell their employees of the potential dangers. That’s what got the asbestos companies in deep shit — they knew about the hazards of asbestos for decades before they got caught (in fact, the reason we have OSHA is due to the malfeasance of asbestos manufacturers). I did asbestos litigation for a while (my firm represented an insurance company that did industrial health stuff back in the 1930s, pre-OSHA), and the human toll is just incredible.
I still don’t know what motivates company management to try to suppress stuff like this. I’m sure everyone and their uncle is doing hard-core CYA rather than thinking long-term. But it’s almost always easier to deal with fallout when you admit error and ‘fess up quick. This was a lesson I learned quite early in my legal career, when presented with a senior partner who would lose his temper, but only when you’d really fucked up — to defuse things, all you had to do was say, “Mike, I fucked up. Let me know what I can do to fix it and I’ll learn not to do it again.” Hiding things just made it worse, because he’d find out eventually. That got one of my coworkers fired.
In any event, I own one non-stick pan, a rather nice Calphalon omelet pan I got for a great price using a friend’s employee discount. It doesn’t claim to be Teflon, and the material seems to be integrated rather than sitting on top of the pan, but I just don’t know. Probably won’t have omelets for a while.