Cleaning & Restoration Association News

In Their Own Words: What DuPont Wants You to Know About Carpet Protectors

February 4, 2005
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There has been a lot of information - and misinformation - surfacing in recent years about the development, formulation, and safety of carpet protectors. To help professional cleaners address the concerns of their clients - as well helping them alleviate any of their own concerns - DuPont, the maker of Teflon, agreed to provide ICS Cleaning Specialist with some "straight talk" on their products.



ICS:Are the Teflon- and Zonyl-based carpet protector products used by professional cleaners safe for their customers and their customer's children and pets?
Rick Raessler: Yes. DuPont and independent groups have conducted rigorous testing to assure the safety of DuPont telomer-based products, including those sold to the professional cleaner and industrial user.

A new scientific study sponsored by DuPont reaffirms that consumer articles made with the company's materials are safe to use. DuPont initiated the study to better understand the potential for consumer exposure and to determine what risk there is, if any, from PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), also known as C-8. Dozens of consumer articles made with or using DuPont materials were tested, including textiles and carpeting, among others. The study focused on a wide variety of ways consumers could be exposed to PFOA, including through the skin, in the air, and orally. All ages of consumers were considered, from infant to adult, as well as adult trade professionals. Study results have reinforced our belief that DuPont telomer-based products are safe for their intended uses.

ICS:What about the professional cleaner? Are the Teflon- and Zonyl-based carpet protector products safe for the cleaner to apply several times daily?
RR:Yes. DuPont's research has included repeated-dose exposure evaluations on selected telomer products. All ages of consumers were considered, from infant to adult, as well as adult trade professionals. Study results have reinforced our belief that DuPont telomer-based products are safe for their intended uses.

As with all chemicals, workers that handle DuPont telomer-based products should follow the normal safe handling practices with these products as directed by MSDS information that DuPont supplies.

ICS:What should cleaning professionals tell their customers when they ask about Teflon and Zonyl?
RR:DuPont has used telomer chemistry for more than 35 years to produce surface protection and modification products, including surfactants and soil, stain and grease repellents. Telomer products like Teflon and Zonyl provide valuable benefits to consumers - resisting soil and stains and keeping their cleaned carpets looking cleaner longer.

DuPont telomer chemistry does not use PFOA in its manufacturing process. PFOA may, however, be found as an unintended processing by-product at trace levels in some DuPont telomer-based products. The scientific evidence shows that PFOA does not cause adverse human health effects in any segment of the population, particularly at these trace levels.

DuPont telomer-based products are safe for their intended uses. Safety is a top priority for all DuPont products. DuPont would not offer any unsafe products to the market. The company employs a rigorous product stewardship and testing process to ensure the safety of all its products.

ICS:Is DuPont committed to staying in this market long term?
RR:DuPont's commitment to our customers and this market is stronger than ever. We believe that telomers provide a valuable benefit to society. Our confidence in our products remains high and we continue to expand our business and offerings. We will continue to provide sound chemistry that is backed by fact-based product testing and a commitment to safety that spans the over 200-year-old history that has made DuPont the company that our customers know they can trust.

ICS:What is DuPont doing about this issue?
RR:DuPont sponsored a detailed study, conducted by an independent research firm, reviewed by a panel of experts, and moderated by the director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, to better understand the potential consumer exposure and what risk there is, if any, to PFOA exposure. Consistent with numerous other studies, the findings show that DuPont telomer-based products are safe for consumers to use.

In addition, DuPont continues to actively work with the EPA and others to address questions about PFOA. DuPont has been and will continue to be forthright in providing information to the EPA that goes beyond compliance and contributes to the agency's efforts to understand PFOA.

A technology program is underway that will essentially eliminate the trace levels of PFOA in DuPont telomer-based products with commercialization expected in 2006. We expect that the trace level of PFOA in telomer end-use products, which already can only be measured by sophisticated analytical techniques, will be reduced approximately 85 percent further. These efforts will essentially eliminate the potential presence of PFOA in the environment from DuPont products.

DuPont has intensified its efforts to broadly communicate the facts and the benefits of its fluorotelomer-based products. DuPont continues to actively monitor this issue in the media and proactively respond to inquiries regarding its fluorotelomer-based products. Further, DuPont has updated its products and safety materials and will be conducting educational seminars for its manufacturers, licensees and retailers.

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