Oh no, now it’s Teflon-coated pots and pans. Yup, the non-stick coating that you you, your mom, and your grandma have been cooking with for forty years, is now the subject of a $5 billion class-action lawsuit filed against Teflon’s inventor, Dupont, on the theory that the stuff causes cancer. So turn off that stove and order in a pizza!
Of course, no one has ever proved that Teflon is a carcinogenic. The closest that anyone?s come is a finding by an Environmental Protection Agency advisory board based on studies conducted during the 1980s that a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) used to make Teflon is a carcinogenic when administered in huge doses to rats–just as practically everything else is a carcinogenic when administered in huge doses to rats. Not only have no studies ever indicated that PFOA causes cancer in humans (as a peer-reviewed study released in April 2005 revealed), but there’s no PFOA in Teflon itself (the chemical is destroyed during the manufacturing process). That’s why three generations of home cooks have used their Teflon-coated frying pans regularly with no ill effect. And campers and other outdoors people haven’t reported an elevated incidence of cancer from Gore-Tex insulation, a Teflon-related product also manufactured with PFOA.
But that hasn’t stopped the lawyers from suing. “DuPont has known for over 20 years that the Teflon product and the PFOA chemical it contains causes cancer in laboratory animals,” one of them told the Associated Press. “I don’t have to prove that it causes cancer. I only have to prove that DuPont lied in a massive attempt to continue selling their product.”
Don’t have to “prove” that Teflon causes cancer in humans? That’s the way class-action lawsuits go these days: The game-plan isn’t to take your case to trial, where the rules actually do require you to “prove” that the defendant actually injured your client, but to wring a huge settlement out of a big corporation via the threat of bad publicity. As science-sanity maven Michael Fumento writes: “They’ve cooked up a scary story, adding a dollop of hyperbole for good measure. Unfortunately, they left out common sense and science.”
According to this report on the class-action suit, filed within days of the EPA advisory board?s finding, the lawyers, representing 14 people who bought and used Teflon non-stick pans, “seek $5 billion to replace all Teflon-coated cookware in the US, with any remaining funds to be used to set up medical monitoring services and a medical research facility.”
Medical “monitoring” services? A medical “research” facility? That means even the lawyers can?t dig up anyone who’s actually gotten cancer from Teflon–but who knows? With enough “monitoring” and “research,” something might turn up.
Meanwhile, if the suit succeeds, maybe you’ll be able to trade in your old Teflon pans for that brand-new Calphalon set you’ve had your eye on.