Forever Chemicals is an unofficial name for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – dubbed so for their resistance to breaking down.
American chemical companies were aware of the health and environmental risk of PFAS but intentionally failed to disclose them, new research published in Annals of Global Health journal has shown.
Scientists examined documents from the companies DuPont and 3M and are sure that these corporations knew they were selling poisonous or highly-toxic substances.
‘Forever Chemicals’ began in 1946, when DuPont introduced Teflon nonstick cookware and promoted it as a revolution in cooking. Teflon is one of the best-known ‘Forever Chemicals’ used almost everywhere along with other PFAS. These substances are widely used in clothing, household goods and even packages of food products. PFAS are extremely resistant to breaking down, and after five decades of market expansion, it became obvious that they are slowly killing people and the environment.
However, the recent research has shown that chemical giants falsely pretended they knew nothing. Just like tobacco companies hid information about lung cancer, DuPont and 3M suppressed the publication of data that cast ‘Forever Chemicals’ as dangerous substances, according to the research.
In 1961, corporate researchers discovered that Teflon leads to an increase in the liver size of rats. In 1979, a company discovered that dogs that ingested small doses of C8 – another ‘Forever Chemical’ – died in two days. Meanwhile, in 1980, companies learned that 25% of pregnant women who worked in their labs with C8 gave birth to children with birth defects. Companies never warned their female employees about the risks, nor made this information public.
As one of the paper’s authors, Nadia Gaber, MD, PhD: “Having access to these documents allows us to see what the manufacturers knew and when, but also how polluting industries keep critical public health information private.”
The authors dubbed their research “The Devil They Knew,” stressing the fact that corporations deliberately misled consumers.
In the 2000s, the American environmental watchdog fined DuPont $16.45 million – the largest civil penalty in the ecology domain at that time. However, this was nothing compared with the billions of dollars in revenues the company received from selling ‘Forever Chemicals’.
Allegedly, nearly every US citizen now has PFAS in their blood, including newborn babies, while DuPont and 3M enjoy their positions in Forbes and Fortune lists.
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