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Is Your Office Making You Sick?

Study Finds PFCs in Office Workers' Blood; Workers in New Offices Have Even Higher Levels of the Potentially Toxic Chemical

PFCs at the Office: Perspectives

''The new study is really important," says Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist at Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization. "Up to this point, there has been debate among researchers about from which sources PFCs get into our bodies," she says. "This class of chemicals, they are all over the place."

Finding the sources of the chemicals is crucial, she says. "We need to get this stuff out [of consumer goods]," Naidenko tells WebMD. "We should not be exposing our workers to these chemicals."

Health effects have been found, she says, even with low blood levels of PFCs.   

PFCs in consumer goods such as carpeting do not dissipate quickly, she tells WebMD. Consumers can check before they buy items such as carpeting, asking if any PFCs (from stain repellents) are in the item. However, she concedes, sales people do not always know.

Janet Smith, a spokeswoman for DuPont Chemicals and Fluoroproducts, declined to comment at length. On its web site, DuPont states that it has reduced PFOA emissions at manufacturing sites worldwide by 98%. It says it is developing alternative stain repellents.

In an email statement, Smith tells WebMD: "The term 'PFCs' is rather a broad umbrella, grouping together chemicals that have different properties and applications, and different toxicity and environmental profiles. These chemicals should be considered individually when discussing questions about health and safety."

In response, McClean says he did just that.

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