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China Opens Investigation into Teflon

China's State Administration of Quality Supervision and Quarantine announced Wednesday that experts had been asked to determine whether Teflon coating was harmful to human health.

The result was expected to be released in September.

The administration said strict measures would be taken to remove all Teflon-coated cookware from shelves and to stop imports of Teflon coated products if they proved to pose health hazards.

Shi Senglan, secretary general of the China Hardware Association, urged domestic non-stick cookware manufacturers to keep in close contact with the U.S. company, DuPont, for any follow-up.

China produces 80 to 100 million Teflon-coated, non-stick cooking utensils per year.

Following the United States government's allegations against chemical giant DuPont, Chinese non-stick cookware producers could see a drop in sales, as customers worry that Teflon-coated pans may pose a potential health risk.

Beijing SOGO, a large department store, has removed non-stick pans using DuPont's Teflon coating from shelves after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused DuPont of failing to report potential risks from the synthetic chemical perfluorooctanoic acid used to make Teflon, known as PFOA or C8.

The acid could cause cancer, it says.

Some department stores in southwestern China's Chengdu City and southern China's Guangzhou have already started removing the cookware from shelves.

Aishida, one of the biggest cookware producers in the country, said it had received many calls from customers concerned about its stick-resistant cooking utensils. Some had even canceled their orders.

Chen Yun, Aishida's general manager, said PFOA was used in making Teflon, but it was not contained in the finished product as the chemical vaporized during the manufacturing process.

Aishida alone earns about 400 million yuan (US$48 million) a year, but more than 60 to 70 percent of their products are sold overseas.

Sources from DuPont's China branch said that its Teflon products posed no risks to health or the environment. The company said it would file a formal denial of the EPA's allegations within 30 days.

(Xinhua News Agency July 16, 2004)

Teflon to Be Tested for Safety
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