Teflon Furniture Coating & Toxicity to Cats

Furniture is sometimes coated with stain-, water- and fire-resistant Teflon.

Furniture is sometimes coated with stain-, water- and fire-resistant Teflon.

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental health research and advocacy organization, has conducted several studies regarding pets' chemical exposure. They found that among the many toxic chemicals pets are exposed to is Teflon from furniture coating. The level of these chemicals found in their small bodies often exceeds those in humans.


Teflon is a registered trademarked product owned by DuPont. Its actual chemical name is polytetrafluoroethylene. Developed in the 1930s, Teflon is found in nonstick pans, carpets, candy wrappers, pizza boxes, nail polish and furniture stain-proofing coating. It is used in products like furniture coating because it is water- and stain-resistant and also has fire-retardant properties. The concern about Teflon toxicity arises from its use of the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, also known as C8. This chemical has been linked to significant health problems.

EPA Studies

In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency began listing PFOA as cancer-causing. That year, they also worked with DuPont and others to reduce environmental PFOA leakage by 95 percent by 2010. They worked with the company 3M to reformulate its Scotchgard stain-proof treatments due to toxicity concerns. The website WhoCanISue.com has a Teflon-specific page noting animal studies linking PFOA to cancer, immune system damage and liver problems. This suggests toxicity to cats who come in contact with such furniture coating.

EWG Studies

The Environmental Working Group has conducted several tests, and hosts a web page titled "Polluted Pets" The group notes several studies relating to animals, including cats. One found cats tested positive for eight of the 13 chemicals in Teflon products, such as stain-proof coatings. They note exposures to these chemicals comes from several sources, including contaminated food, beds and stain-proof furniture coating. EWG notes cats ingest additional amounts of these chemicals each time they groom themselves.

Other Studies

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is researching whether PFOA affect hormone levels and thyroid gland function. In 2006, the journal "Toxicological Sciences" published an article noting links between PFOA and animal health, noting evidence that PFOA may damage reproductive tissues. In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control published a report that claimed 90 percent of Americans had PFOA in their blood. As the EWG notes, pets ingest, absorb and inhale the same chemicals we do.

About the Author

Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.

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