The Environmental Protection Agency asked today that companies reduce the amount of a man-made chemical known as perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and related chemicals.
The chemicals are used to make a wide range of nonstick and stain-resistant surfaces and products, including Teflon.
According to the EPA, these chemicals have become detectable in the blood of the general U.S. population as well as in the environment. Here is what you need to know about the chemicals:
How are people exposed to PFOA?
The EPA is not sure how the chemical moves from products to people. The agency continues to investigate how it's transmitted.
Where are the chemicals commonly used?
They are used in thousands of products that have nonstick surfaces, from cookware to waterproof clothing to firefighting foams.
Can people reduce their exposure?
The EPA says that are no current steps consumers can take to reduce their exposure.
Are these chemicals dangerous?
The EPA is not sure yet what risk PFOA poses to people, if any. "Given the scientific uncertainties, EPA has not yet made a determination as to whether PFOA poses an unreasonable risk to the public. At the present time, EPA does not believe there is any reason for consumers to stop using any consumer or industrial-related products that contain PFOA," the agency states on its Web site.
Why Is the EPA asking companies to reduce their output of these chemicals?
"The science on PFOA is still coming in, but the concern is there, so acting now to minimize future releases of PFOA is the right thing to do for our environment and health," Susan Hazen, EPA's acting assistant administrator in the office of prevention, pesticides and toxic substances, said today.