"Alarmed by research linking chemicals used to make Scotchgard and Teflon to cancer, liver disease and other health problems, the federal government spent the last decade pressuring manufacturers to phase out the stain-resistant compounds.
But scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently discovered that a different industry -- metal plating -- is dumping high levels of the chemicals into sewers in Chicago and Cleveland, and likely is doing the same thing in scores of other cities.
The finding is worrisome because the chemicals, known as perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, wash unfiltered through sewage treatment plants into lakes and streams. The chemicals don't break down in the environment, and traces are showing up in the blood of people and wildlife around the globe.
At one Chicago-area metal plating shop, which the EPA does not name, the agency found PFCs being flushed into the sewers at concentrations of 12,214 parts per trillion, far higher than the 2.5 parts per trillion found in water piped into the factory."