Non-stick coatings used in cookware can damage the liver and weaken the immune systems, thus posing a higher risk of catching diseases, says a new study.
Jennifer M. Keller, research biologist at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) found that the non-stick coating with perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) on cookware, furniture fabrics, carpets etc are causing damage to the liver and immune systems of the Loggerhead turtle.
The researchers believe that the environmental health impact may also pose a major threat to humans.
Keller said that in a 2005 study, PFC concentrations measured in the plasma of turtles found along the coast from Florida to North Carolina indicated that PFCs have become a major contaminant for the species.
The levels of the most common PFC, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), were found to be higher in turtles captured in the north than in the south.
In a subsequent study analysing that the effect of PFCs, the researchers exposed Western fence lizards to the same PFOS levels that were found in turtles.
The lizards showed significant increases in an enzyme that indicated liver toxicity and signs of suppressed immune function.
Keller also referred to a recent study led by Margie Peden-Adams of the Medical University of South Carolina that showed PFOS were toxic to the immune systems of mice at concentrations found both in loggerhead sea turtles and humans.
The ability of the mouse immune system to respond to a challenge was reduced in half by PFOS.
"If our immune systems have a similar sensitivity to PFOs humans could be immunocompromised from current environmental exposure to PFOS, said Keller.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).