PTFE Free?
by Guy Cramer
August 3, 2005

C8 (PFOA) Widespread detection in Humans of potential carcinogen – DuPont and EPA seek solution to jigsaw puzzle; DuPont may already know the answers.

It is a problem that more than 90 percent of people have, artificial particles of C8 (PFOA) in your body from an unnatural source – Teflon (PTFE), you can do everything to avoid direct exposure and still the problem will persist. The C8 story begins in Ohio and West Virgina and ends with our homes and vehicles.

A chemical known as C8 or PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid or perfluorooctanoate) found in the drinking water around the DuPont facilities in Ohio and West Virginia is a product of manufacturing Teflon. When the population in these areas tested high for C8, the general population away from these regions was tested to compare against normal levels. When the general population figures came back as almost identical to the Ohio and West Virginia (90+ percent) DuPont couldn’t explain where the wide spread C8 was coming from. Cooking with Teflon coated cookware and the Teflon family of non-stick products was the initial focus but many studies by DuPont failed to show the association as the low and medium cooking temperatures as recommended by DuPont don’t get high enough to vaporize the Teflon. The high heat in manufacturing burns off the C8 and DuPont does not expect the remaining product to contain large quantities of the compound. However a Canadian study in 2001 discovered C8 was one of the chemicals released when Teflon is heated repeatedly.

Teflon is tetrafluoroethylene / polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), the PTFE generic name is used if a company is not using DuPont product or does not want to pay license fees for using the Teflon trademarked name. Teflon is also used as the trade name by DuPont for perfluoroalkoxy polymer resin (PFA) a product with similar properties to PTFE.

To evaluate the threat posed by C8 (PFOA), the EPA convened a science advisory board of 17 distinguished scientists. Their preliminary report, released last month, recommended that the EPA should consider PFOA a "likely carcinogen in humans."

The report, based entirely on animal studies, shows an association to four different types of cancer in animals including damage to the immune system and to the brain and nervous system, it also seems to affect cholesterol and fat processing, pancreas, and mammary glands, liver damage, growth defects, testicular cancer, reduced birth weight, birth defects and death in lab rats and monkeys. DuPont has tested workers that manufacture Teflon, who should show the highest level of side effects, only elevated levels of cholesterol that may or may not be associated with C8 have been documented and DuPont is still claiming that C8 is safe in humans.

Remember this information is only based on animal studies, this does not mean that it will affect humans in the same way, nor does it determine how much exposure is required to be dangerous.

The consensus between the groups is that there are so many products that contain Teflon or generic forms of the product that we don’t know for certain where the problem lays. If C8 outgases from the product over time, then all Teflon (PTFE) products are eventually going to be harmful. If it is a question of high heat, then we need to look closer at the different ways we cook food and the use of nonstick surfaces.

It takes 20 years for the human body to rid 95% of C8, only if no further ingestion or inhalation of C8 were to occur. C8 can be found in most people's blood in North America and beyond; it has even been detected in wildlife in remote areas of the Arctic.

The FDA approved Teflon for contact with food in 1960 based on a food frying study that found higher levels of Teflon chemicals in hamburger cooked on heat-aged and old pans. At the time, FDA judged these levels to be of little health significance.

According to a study by the Environmental Working Group, non-stick pots and pans could reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit (370 C) in 3-5 minutes.

While DuPont acknowledges that its nonstick coatings begin to deteriorate when the cookware reaches about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, it notes that those temperatures are higher than typical cooking heats. And while it admits that birds may be harmed by the fumes, the company maintains that its pans are safe under normal use.

Bird deaths have been documented with heating generic PTFE to 396°F (202°C) due to “PTFE (Teflon) toxicosis.” Signs of PTFE poisoning in birds are lung congestion, fluid accumulation of the lung (edema), bleeding in the lung (hemorrhage), heart tissue death (necrosis of the atrial epithelium) and crystalline particulate deposition in certain lung cells (parenchyma). Autopsies also show brain hemorrhage, liver congestion, degeneration and necrosis; and heart muscle (myocardial) degeneration and necrosis.

Non-stick pans have never been meant for high-heat cooking, as the instructions on any pan label will show. "We recommend cooking using coated non-stick cookware at low to medium heat," says Dupont's Rich Angiullo. "We know (our product) can withstand temperatures up to 500 F, well above any of the recommended temperatures for frying or baking."

In a recent press release, DuPont wrote that "significant decomposition of the coating will occur only when temperatures exceed about 660 degrees F (340 degrees C). These temperatures alone are well above the normal cooking range." However, DuPont studies show that the Teflon begins to offgas toxic particulates at 446°F.

Let’s examine those forms of cooking which exceed those levels specified by DuPont.

A few types of bread require 475°F preheat and a cooking temperature of 425°F, guess what most bread pans have in them? Not a problem as most bread is cooked at 400°F below the threshold that Teflon begins to particulate, but generic non-stick coatings – made of similar chemical composition to Teflon has shown to break down at 396°F meaning much of our bread could absorb these particulate.

Pizza is routinely cooked 450°F - 750°F and higher, if you order a pan pizza guess what the pans may have in them. Do the ovens themselves have a non-stick coating on the surface where the Pizzas cook? At 680°F PFOA (C8) is released from Teflon as a vapor, likely a lower temperature is required from generic non-stick coatings.

Look at this Pizza cooking quote “The secret to "the best" pizza is a hot oven, not the fuel source. While wood fired ovens potentially make incredibly fine pizza, simply heating an oven with wood does not guarantee success. The oven has to be really hot -- pizza baking temperature is 750F (400C).”

When I posed this puzzle to a medical doctor that non-stick pots and pans when used properly were not reaching critical temperatures he quickly responded that barbecue grills often reach above those temperatures and we even use metal brushes to clean the grills. Have you ever seen a well used grill with the entire non-stick surface intact? Usually the hottest areas of the grill show no sign of the non-stick surface – it’s vaporized and likely some of this has been ingested with the cooked meats. Given the E-coli scares in meat many people now barbecue at higher temperatures.

Consumer Gas Grills (Barbeques) “can easily obtain temperatures in excess of 700 or 800 degrees.”

Professional grills “can reach temperatures as high as 1600 degrees Fahrenheit—that makes it a good choice for searing steaks…”

If the hood of a home BBQ reads 600°F the grates have been measured at 670°F.

High end ovens can broil at 1400°F.

Remember, at 680°F perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is released from Teflon and likely under 680°F for a generic form of PTFE.

Here are some stats direct from DuPont

Replacing cooking surfaces and cookware that are made with fluorinated telomers surfaces (Teflon and generic non-stick). In China they’ve stopped selling cookware with non-stick surfaces as the people there won’t buy them anymore. Barbeque grills that have a non-stick coating should be replaced with grills that have no non-stick surfaces. Restaurants need to convert from non-stick grills and uncoated cooking surfaces. This could be the largest way to reduce PFOA in our system.

The issues surrounding PFOA found in wildlife in the Arctic could be from Teflon ageing and outgasing or other perfluorinated chemicals, known as telomers, breaking down to PFOA. It could be from other sources such as laser cutting Teflon which vaporizes the material or molding PFE (Teflon Films) “The temperature of the heaters is usually above 649°C (1200°F) just to effectively heat the film to 260-288°C (500-550°F).” This quote comes straight from DuPont. These processes occur in large quantities everyday in many locations. Not just around DuPont facilities.

The C8 (PFOA) problem is much larger than cooking, laser cutting and molding Teflon sheets, it is found in 90+% of the population and is detected in wildlife that is not close to any direct source.

What is in wide spread use at high temperature on a consistent basis? We only need to look at our vehicle’s internal combustion engine, if you’ve added a PTFE Engine Oil Additive and if your engine burns oil, than it is likely a C8 source:

A history on PTFE oil additives

We will begin with a direct explanation from DuPont: 

DuPont manufactures and markets a line of PTFE fluoroadditive products under its registered trademark Teflon. These products are characterized by their chemical inertness, high temperature resistance and lubricity. These properties make DuPont fluoroadditives attractive lubricants for a variety of end uses, including waxes, inks, paints, coatings and as an additive with other plastic products.
Over the years, different companies have been interested in using DuPont fluoroadditives in engine treatment systems because of performance attributes they believe can be achieved. DuPont, however, did not believe it had products well suited for this application and discontinued the sale of fluoroadditives for engine treatment systems from 1980 until 1990.

In 1990, DuPont developed a line of PTFE fluoroadditives that were capable of being dispersed in colloidal form, a product form often used in engine treatment systems.
Subsequently, DuPont began selling specific grades of these fluoroadditives to engine treatment systems manufacturers'. DuPont, however, does not warrant or test products for claims made by these manufacturers'. This is the manufacturer's responsibility.

David W. DeVoe
DuPont Fluoroproducts
DuPont - The miracles of science(TM)

Dupont did not recommend using PTFE oil additives and actually had stopped selling to companies that were using PTFE’s in oil in 1980, however they were sued by the engine oil companies and were forced to sell it to them in 1990 on grounds of 'restraint of trade'.

 DuPont's Fluoropolymers Division Product Specialist, J.F. Imbalzano said,

"Teflon is not useful as an ingredient in oil additives or oils used for internal combustion engines."

DuPont now states that though they sell PTFE to oil additive producers, they have "no proof of the validity of the additive makers' claims." They further state that they have "no knowledge of any advantage gained through the use of PTFE in engine oil."

NASA Lewis Research also ran tests on PTFE additives and they concluded that: "In the types of bearing surface contact we have looked at, we have seen no benefit. In some cases we have seen detrimental effect. The solids in the oil tend to accumulate at inlets and act as a dam, which simply blocks the oil from entering. Instead of helping, it is actually depriving parts of lubricant."

DuPont has come up with a smaller particle of Teflon for oil additives that is better suited to flowing through filters rather than clogging them. The issue here is not if the additive improves or degrades performance in an internal combustion engine but rather does the PTFE in the oil additive find its way into the combustion chamber where temperatures can exceed 1100 degrees Fahrenheit? Above the vaporization temperature of Teflon!

The average used engine uses a quart of oil every 900 to 1500 miles, in other words it burns oil in the combustion chamber due to; Bad valve seals, Worn valve guides, Pressurized crankcase (oil pan) due to a clogged PCV valve or breather system and/or Blow-by from worn piston rings. Some newer vehicles have been plagued with burning oil at these high rates.

Since its 1978 introduction, one oil additive which uses PTFE has about 30 million users world-wide and retails for about $18 a quart. The company claims to have about 60% of the engine treatment market.

Could it be that PTFE (Teflon), so widely used in so many products, has found its way into items that exceed the temperatures where it is known that PFOA is emitted? Is it enough to explain the amount detected in people and wildlife? Did DuPont know that oil additives were going to find their way into the combustion chamber where the PTFE would be vaporized and for this reason pulled Teflon from these companies in 1980?

Environmental chemists know that fluorinated alcohols can last in the atmosphere for about 20 days which is enough time to transport the chemical into remote areas like the arctic where they are detecting it in wildlife.

The question whether fluorinated alcohols are escaping from Teflon (PTFE) at normal temperatures and then converting to PFOA is still unknown.

Once PFOA is in the atmosphere there are no known degradation methods other than extreme heat which is not a natural occurrence.

What is acknowledged from DuPont and by independent testing "significant decomposition of the coating (Teflon) will occur only when temperatures exceed about 660 degrees F (340 degrees C)…”

Our governments, industry, DuPont and any other supplier of PTFE or similar compounds around the world must not allow further Teflon or other perfluorinated chemicals, known as telomers from processes and products which could particulate and move into a high heated sources or be placed into sources where temperatures can reach in excess of 400°F.

Part 2 of 3 At War with Teflon


Dupont Teflon Cookware Care

Teflon Coatings - Engineers Edge

Canaries in the Kitchen

The 10 BBQ Commandments, by Steven Raichlen

Teflon Safety Gets Closer Look Wednesday, July 13, 2005 By Daniel J. DeNoon,2933,162412,00.html

Is Teflon Chemical Toxic? EPA Seeks Answers; PFOA in Everybody's Blood, but Is It Harmful to Humans? By Daniel DeNoon, WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD Thursday, January 13, 2005,2933,162412,00.html

Temperature of a Pizza Oven

Wood Fired Pizza Ovens

Breads and Pizza

Heterocyclic Amines in Cooked Meats

Traditional Fast Food Needn't be Self-Contradictory The Basics of Eastern Style Cooking

DuPont Far From Being Out of the Frying Pan with Respect to Its Teflon-Related Problems

DuPont Facts:

Techniques for Fabricating DuPont FEP Film

QUAKER STATE SUBSIDIARIES SETTLE FTC CHARGES AGAINST SLICK 50 Agreement Safeguards $10 Million in Redress to Consumers

Why Engines Burn Oil

TEFLON polytertafluorethylene PTFE

There's something in the air, and it may be coming from your carpet
Broadcast: March 20, 2005

This material is Copyright © 2005 by Guy Cramer, All Rights Reserved.
This material cannot be reproduced in any form without the expressed written permission of the Author. Whole Copies may be printed for personal use; no changes are to be made to the content, names or references.

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