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3M Phasing Out Some Chemicals

May 17, 2000

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Consumer products giant 3M Co. said it is phasing out some of its Scotchgard stain-repellent products after tests detected low levels of a production chemical in people and the environment.

The company behind such products as Scotch tape and Post-it Notes said it does not believe the compound poses a risk to human health or the environment.

``Customers need to know they can continue to use what they have″ of the products being phased out, spokesman Chris Welsh said. ``There’s a possibility that some of these products may be reformulated. That’s not exactly clear yet.″

Tests showed that the compound, perfluorooctanyl, can be detected at extremely low levels in the environment and in people, the company said.

William Coyne, the company’s head of research and development, said products are safe but the compound ``does not decompose.″ While low levels pose no risk, there could be effects ``with extremely high doses,″ Coyne said in today’s New York Times.

Affected products include firefighting foams and coatings that repel soil, oil, water and grease. They represent about 2 percent of 3M’s nearly $16 billion in annual sales.

``While this chemistry has been used effectively for more than 40 years and our products are safe, our decision to phase out production is based on our principles of responsible environmental management,″ said Charles Reich, a 3M executive vice president.

Company tests of stored blood in the United States, Europe, Japan and China within the past several years found evidence of the chemicals, The Washington Post reported today. Follow-up tests with laboratory rats led to meetings with the Environmental Protection Agency, which reportedly supported 3M’s decision.

About 1,500 people in 3M’s global work force of 71,000 have jobs associated with products using perfluorooctanyl, but Welsh said no jobs would be lost. Most production will be phased out by the end of the year.

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