Comedian John Oliver Tackles Toxic “Forever Chemicals” in Household Products

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The last episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” dealt with “forever chemicals” commonly found in ordinary household products.

PFAS, known as “eternal chemicals” because they build up over time and do not break down, are found in a wide range of everyday products such as cookware, food packaging. , cosmetics and other consumer goods, resulting in widespread exposure to humans and the environment.


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PFAS has been linked to cancer and other illnesses, such as high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, pregnancy-induced hypertension, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer and decreased response to vaccines.

In the latest episode of “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver explains how 3M started selling the chemical C8 to DuPont to make Teflon for nonstick frying pans in the 1950s.

Oliver used his show to call 3M to know decades ago that PFAS accumulated in humans and animals, chemicals did not degrade in the environment and could increase liver size in rats. , rabbits and dogs.

In 1981, 3M knew there were birth defects in rats after ingesting PFAS. Once DuPont has been notified and the company tested children of employees in their Teflon division – two in seven births had eye defects, but the company has not made it public.

3M in 1991 strongly advised DuPont against dumping PFAS in waterways, which the company ignored and ultimately lost track of how much it was dumping into the environment.

“Harmful chemicals just aren’t something you should lose sight of,” Oliver said. “It’s not your car keys or your second child,” the host joked.

Although the company developed a less toxic alternative to Teflon, DuPont objected, saying it did not want to risk its bottom line when profits generated $ 1 billion in revenue each year, according to Oliver.

“Proving once and for all that businesses really are people – especially sociopaths,” Oliver said.

“And if you are wondering where [Environmental Protection Agency] was in it all you should know they were more than a little paralyzed here, “he continued.

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, 1976, the agency could only require testing for chemicals when it provided evidence of potential wrongdoing – a setup that “largely allows chemical companies to self-regulate, “said Oliver,” which is an absolutely terrifying string of words, right there with FaceTime coming in with Jeffrey Toobin. ”


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