Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select


Teflon is a DuPont brand name and registered trademark for a non-stick coating on many products. Teflon contains polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a compound DuPont discovered in 1938. It's now manufactured by Chemours, a spin-off of the DuPont company.

Products that contain Teflon (PTFE) include the following:

  • Cooking utensils, such as nonstick pans
  • Apparel
  • Automotive products
  • Stovetop pots and frying pans
  • Household goods
  • Bakeware
  • Cast iron pans
  • Metal utensils
  • Personal care items

Many companies also use it for industrial applications.

While Teflon makes life easier for many of us, it also carries risks. There have been many Teflon lawsuits over the years.

In this article, we'll describe the features of Teflon. We'll also discuss the risks of using Teflon and what to do if you suffer an injury after using a Teflon-coated product.

Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)

Teflon is not a natural chemical. It contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a synthetic (man-made) chemical. Manufacturers also refer to PFOA as "C8." They use PFOA to make fluoropolymers. Fluoropolymers have properties that make household and consumer products more durable and easier to use.

Some unique properties of PFOA include:

  • Fire resistance
  • Oil, stain, grease, and water repellency
  • Durability

Consumer products made with fluoropolymers include non-stick cookware (such as Teflon-coated cookware) and breathable, all-weather clothing.

Is PFOA Safe?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has investigated the possible risks of PFOA since the late 1990's. PFOA permeates the environment, and experts have found it in low levels in the environment and humans.

PFOA doesn't decompose, and it's not biodegradable. It falls into the class of "forever chemicals."

Studies show that PFOA can cause developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals. PFOA remains in the human body for long periods of time, which may cause adverse health effects.

While the EPA confirms that PFOA exposure is potentially dangerous, it does not fully understand how exposure occurs in the general population. Because the sources of PFOA and the pathways of exposure remain unclear, the EPA hasn't recommended any specific steps for protecting yourself from PFOA exposure.

While some believe that the EPA should categorize PFOA as a "likely" carcinogen, the EPA has only described PFOA as "suggestive...of carcinogenicity, but not sufficient to assess human carcinogenic potential."

Presently, the EPA does not believe that there is any reason for consumers to stop using products containing PFOA. However, it has commissioned its Science Advisory Board to conduct new studies to determine how polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and PFOS impact drinking water. As of November 2021, the agency requested the board to update the EPA's Drinking Water Advisories.

Experts Still Question the Safety of Teflon

Recently, scientists have questioned the safety of Teflon-coated cookware. A class-action lawsuit brought against DuPont alleges that Teflon-coated cookware releases PFOA when heated above certain very high temperatures.

The complaint concerns DuPont's failure to warn consumers about the dangers of PFOA exposure. DuPont maintains that Teflon does not contain PFOA and that Teflon-coated cookware is safe when used correctly. This is neither a personal injury case nor have any Americans reported injuries due to PFOA.

The only health effect reported by DuPont is a condition called "polymer fume fever." When you heat Teflon-coated cookware to abnormally high temperatures (e.g., cooking temperatures above 500º F or 260º C), it can emit fumes. These fumes can cause temporary flu-like symptoms. Symptoms occur 4 to 8 hours after exposure and disappear after 48 hours with no necessary treatment.

Teflon and Cancer

Consumers love Teflon for its non-stick properties and ability to operate at high heat. Unfortunately, there have been claims that PFOA causes cancer. For example, Ohio and West Virginia residents argued that a local DuPont factory released PFOA into the environment. They claimed it entered the water supply, causing increased rates of cancer in the exposed population.

The American Cancer Society has said there is no proof that Teflon or PFOA cause cancer. Still, some researchers argue that high levels of exposure to Teflon can cause the following conditions:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Preeclampsia
  • Low birth weight
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure in pregnant women
  • Change in liver enzymes

If you experience these adverse health effects and believe it's due to Teflon, contact your doctor immediately.

For FAQ about other federal environmental protection laws DuPont (and other companies) have violated, visit the EPA's Enforcement page. Several states have initiated investigations into PFOA and its environmental levels.

Restrictions on Teflon Starting 2023

The FDA has stated that cooking and eating food on Teflon products is perfectly safe. But effective 2023, 12 U.S. states implemented laws restricting or banning all PFAS products. Maine was the first state to ban the manufacture and sale of PFAS products completely.

The other states initiating bans or restrictions on PFAS include:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Given current trends, you can expect most other states to follow suit. Some states have chosen to restrict the use of PFAS, while others have implemented total bans on products containing PFAS.

Recently, scientists created a replacement chemical for PFOA - GenX. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the EPA and CDC reported concerns with this compound.

Lawsuits Over PFOA Exposure

In June 2006, Parkersburg, West Virginia, residents filed a class action lawsuit against DuPont, alleging that its Washington Works plant had contaminated their drinking water supply with PFOA.

The plaintiffs alleged that Teflon manufacturers released PFOA, making class members ill and causing property damage. DuPont settled the case for $107.6 million to avoid costly litigation that could take years.

In December 2005, DuPont agreed to pay $16.5 million to settle alleged violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act. The government claimed that DuPont failed to report information about the substantial risks of PFOA.

The violations alleged by the EPA concerned potential occupational and industrial hazards due to PFOA exposure. This settlement between DuPont and the EPA had nothing to do with consumer use of Teflon-coated cookware or other Teflon-based products.

Teflon and PFOA Exposure - Getting Legal Help

If you or a loved one experiences dangerous symptoms or unusual medical conditions after using Teflon coating systems, seek immediate medical attention. If you have used products containing Teflon and worry you and your family have experienced PFOA exposure in the environment, contact an experienced product liability attorney to discuss your options.

Was this helpful?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps

Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Help Me Find a Do-It-Yourself Solution

Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options