A new Netflix documentary titled, “The Devil We Know,” tells the story of DuPont’s decades-long cover-up of the harm caused by chemicals used to make its popular non-stick Teflon™ products. The film shows how the chemicals used to make Teflon poisoned people and the environment—not just in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where DuPont had a Teflon plant, but all over the world.
It all began in 1945, when DuPont, renamed DowDuPont following its 2017 merger with Dow Chemical, began manufacturing Teflon, a product best known for its use in non-stick cookware, but also widely used in a variety of other consumer products, including waterproof clothing and furniture, food packaging, self-cleaning ovens, airplanes and cars.
One of the key ingredients in DuPont’s Teflon was C8, a toxic, man-made chemical created by Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, better known as 3M, to make Scotchgard. The chemical, also known as PFOS or PFOA, is what gave Teflon its non-stick properties.
Both 3M and DuPont were well aware of the health hazards associated with C8. But that didn’t stop DuPont from dumping the toxic chemical into local waterways, where it made its way into public drinking water and subsequently sickened thousands of people, and ultimately killing many of them.