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Canadian study finds non-stick pan chemical in dolphins, birds and fish

Think "perfluoroalkyl phosphinic acids" is tough to say? Try cleaning them up from the environment.

An Atlantic bottlenose dolphin sticks its head out of the water at The Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in this 2008 file photo.

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

An Atlantic bottlenose dolphin sticks its head out of the water at The Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in this 2008 file photo.

Canadian scientists have bad news for those of us too clumsy to keep our cups upright and unskilled at the art of not burning everything we cook.

One of the chemicals in the coating of non-stick pans as well as in stain-free carpets has turned up in the blood of North America’s dolphins, pike and cormorants for the first time.

That’s according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology, by an international team led by Canadian environmental chemist Amila De Silva.

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The substances the scientists’ examined isn’t just extremely difficult to say out loud — “perfluoroalkyl phosphinic acids” (PFPIAs).

Once released as pollution from industrial activity, they’re also extremely difficult to clean up because they are “environmentally persistent,” meaning they stick around for a long time.

Headed up by researchers at the federal department of Environment and Climate Change Canada, the study is the first to look at the industrial toxins that “have not been widely studied in biota,” or wildlife, according to the study.

It’s the first time PFPIAs have been detected in fish, dolphin and bird blood plasma. Researchers collected blood samples from Northern Pike, Double-Crested Cormorants, and Bottlenose Dolphins.

Even more worrying, however, the report found that “PFPIAs had a detection frequency of 100 per cent in all animals.”

The toxins have been found in human blood before, and other researchers have found evidence they could have harmful health impacts on people.

In that light, the study concluded with a call for more research into the possible risks to humans, since the “substances also stick around in the environment for a long time, which makes them likely to be inhaled or ingested by people and animals,” according to an announcement from the American Chemical Society.

“On the basis of the presence of PFPIAs in fish and wildlife,” the study authors wrote, “we determined that further research is recommended for determining the effect of these substances.”

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