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Environment

DuPont Faces Class-Action Lawsuits Over Teflon

by Marc S. Reisch
July 25, 2005 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 83, ISSUE 30

LITIGATION

Two law firms that say Teflon-coated pots and pans can make people sick are filing class-action lawsuits against DuPont in federal court.

Alan Kluger, a partner at Miami-based Kluger, Peretz, Kaplan & Berlin, wants DuPont to pay $5 billion to replace millions of people's cookware. The class could ultimately include "almost every American that has purchased a pot or pan coated with DuPont's nonstick coating," he says.

Kluger's firm and Fort Lauderdale-based Oppenheim Pilelsky allege that Teflon polytetrafluoroethylene-coated cookware emits toxic gases when heated. They say they are especially concerned over the continued use of the cookware, because DuPont uses a suspected carcinogen, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), as an intermediate to make Teflon coatings.

DuPont spokesman Clif Webb says, "Cookware coated with Teflon nonstick is safe when used properly." And Teflon does not contain PFOA, Webb adds. Teflon can decompose at temperatures exceeding 660 F, Webb acknowledges. Even so, "over the past 40 years, there is only one documented case of a minor health effect as a result of nonstick cookware," he says.

In addition to replacing cookware, the law firms want DuPont to monitor the health of consumers who purchased Teflon pans and to fund independent health effects research. DuPont is funding a study on PFOA exposure as part of an earlier class-action settlement with residents near its Parkersburg, W.Va., plant.

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