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Whistleblower Questions Teflon's Safety

Former Employee Says Chemicals Come Off on Food

Nov 18, 2005 | ABC News

To prevent grease stains on fast food and pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, candy bar wrappers and hundreds of other food items, the paper is coated with a chemical that's part of the Teflon family made by DuPont.

Now ABC News has learned that the Food and Drug Administration has opened an investigation into its safety, based on new information and the testimony of a DuPont whistleblower.

Glen Evers, a senior engineer at DuPont for 22 years, says the company has tried to hide the fact that the chemical coating on food wrappers comes off and ends up in humans in far greater concentrations that originally approved.

"You don't see it, you don't feel it," Evers said. "You can't taste it. But when you open that bag, and you start dipping your French fries in there, you are extracting fluorchemical and you're eating it."

The chemicals go into your body, which is "a very bad thing," Evers added.

"It bioaccumulates, which means the chemical goes into the blood and it stays there for a very long period of time," he said.

A recent government study found that the chemical is now in the blood of 96 percent of all Americans.

But Evers says the company refused to listen to his pleas they discontinue the chemical's use on food wrapping.

"DuPont thinks that they have pollution rights to the blood of every American, every man, woman and child in the United States," Evers said.

A DuPont memo from 1987, obtained by the Environmental Working Group reveals test results that the chemical was coming off at three times what the FDA allowed.

"The documents that we are sending now to the FDA show that this is a pattern of cover-up and suppression," said Tim Kroop of the Environmental Working Group. Evers says he was pushed out of the company for his stand and he has now told what he knows under oath in a lawsuit being brought against DuPont. He says he is ashamed he waited so long to talk.

"You have to ask for forgiveness for things, excuse me, for the things that you've done and you haven't done," he said. "I couldn't take it. I had to confess it to my priest and my priest said me, 'You just can't dance with the devil. You just have to do something.' "

DuPont has denied allegations that the chemical posed a health risk, saying FDA has approved the products for consumer use.

"These products are safe for consumer use," the company said in a statement. "FDA has approved these materials for consumer use since the late 1960s, and DuPont has always complied with all FDA regulations and standards regarding these products."

The company said Evers "had little if any direct involvement in PFOA issues while employed at DuPont. Evers expressed a wide range of personal opinions that are inaccurate, counter to FDA's findings, and which DuPont strongly disputes."

DuPont told "GMA" that Evers lost his job because of corporate restructuring, and not for his views.

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