A study released Monday by the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found elevated cholesterol levels in children exposed to high levels of perfluoroalkyl acids, which are found in non-stick cookware and other products.
The study was conducted among children in Ohio who had been exposed to drinking water contaminated with the chemicals. Blood tests of the affected children found elevated levels of LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, which is associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke. The findings are particularly notable because of the presence of perfluoroalkyl acids in various consumer products, including food packaging and cookware, where it is used as a processing aid in the manufacture of non-stick pots and pans.
Health concerns associated with perfluoroalkyl acids – and in particular with PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) – have been raised before. DuPont (Stock Quote: DD), which makes the non-stick coating Teflon, admitted in 2005 that workers in its Teflon plants showed a 10% increase in cholesterol. The company insists that non-stick cookware is safe for its intended use, and to date no study has drawn a link between the use of PFOA in consumer products and elevated cholesterol levels. Nevertheless, Dupont is one of several companies that agreed in 2006 to comply with a request by the Environmental Protection Agency to phase out the use of PFOA by 2015.
The authors of the study did not call for a ban on the use of the chemical in consumer products, instead noting that their findings “warrant further study.”