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PFCAs Detected in the Artic

Fluorinated polymers have become a great danger in the environment and are thought to cause cancer in man. Their ubiquitous presence is seen in microwave popcorn bags, stain-free carpets, fast-food wrappers, denture cleaners, windshield washer fluid. //

Scott Mabury, at the University of Toronto had led a team which has investigated the effect of these chemicals for the past five years. These fluorinated polymers degrade and eventually become a group of nasty chemicals called PFCAs for perfluorocarboxylates.

PFCAs are detected in the human blood, in household air and dust and in heavier concentrations in the blood of polar bears and seals in the Arctic, thousands of kilometers from any possible industrial source. The fact that the concentration in seals are doubling every five years is very disturbing.

PFCAs are linked to cancer and other developmental effects in animal experiments, and are expected to persist in the soil and elsewhere for hundreds of years. In Canada, the federal government in 2004 banned four new fluorinated polymers.

Environment Canada is holding a consultation among PFCA experts from industry, environmental groups, government and the universities to discuss and clamping down the issue on existing fluorinated polymers.

Bernard Madé, who directs Environment Canada's office, said that action should be taken against the spread of fluorinated polymers and hence a voluntary action by the industry or imposing controls through government regulations should be done fast.

Environment Canada proposed that substances containing fluorinated polymers degrade slowly and release fluorotelomer alcohols. These alcohols can be transported by the wind over long distances where they further reduce to form the PFCAs.

Mabury and fellow U of T chemist Mary Joyce Dinglasan-Panlilio published a paper in the American Chemical Society. They said that during their study whi
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