|NEW YORK - The US Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday a panel of scientists will help it determine the health risks to humans of a chemical used to manufacture non-stick coatings such as Teflon.|
A prelimary study by the EPA of perfluorooctanoic acid and its salts, known as PFOA, said there is evidence it can cause cancers in rats.
The draft report said PFOA, which is used to make Teflon, targets the liver in rats and could raise cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people. Chemical maker DuPont Co. has acknowledged that finding, but said its study has found no overall health problems.
Although PFOA is used to make Teflon, it is not present in the coating which is applied to cookware, clothing car parts and flooring.
"This is a prelimiary assessment. It's premature to offer any conclusions at this time," said EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones. "PFOA could be a carcinogenic in rats but the cancer hazard for people is less certain.
"The chemical targets the liver and is present in breast milk in rats," she said the study showed, but it did not come to any conclusions about humans.
At a public hearing Feb. 22-23, an advisory board of scientists will review the preliminary report by the EPA, which agreed in April 2003 to do the study.
The Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group, said it believes the cancer risks of PFOA are being downplayed.
"There is more serious risk, we believe, than what EPA is discussing," said spokeswoman Lauren Sucher.
The study was conducted by EPA scientists, with data contributed by DuPont, which uses PFOA, and 3M Co., which used to produce it. Academics and state and local goverments also contributed.
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