Saturday, February 04, 2006 - After PCBs, the next big thing

PFCAs turn up in blood of seals, polar bears Large group of chemicals
linked to cancers
Feb. 4, 2006. 01:00 AM

Fluorinated polymers are everywhere, even though most people have never heard of them.

Microwave popcorn bags, stain-free carpets, fast-food wrappers, denture cleaners, windshield washer fluid — this is just a sample of the consumer products that contain some compound from this vast chemical family.

Such widespread use means big dollars. Manufacturing millions of kilograms of fluorinated polymers (and the chemicals used to make them) generates billions of dollars in annual revenue for chemical giants like Dupont Co. in the U.S., Clariant in Germany and Daikin in Japan.

Yet, these ubiquitous compounds are shaping up to be as big an environmental and potential health problem as their better known chemical cousins like PCB and DDT. Possibly even bigger, say some experts like University of Toronto's Scott Mabury.

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