The United Steelworkers (USW) union has mailed information to over 4,500 retail carpet dealers and sent letters to 35 carpet manufacturing companies informing them that they may have "a legal duty to warn" their customers about potential harmful effects of carpets that may contain perfluorooctanoic acid, a Teflon-related chemical also known as PFOA or C8 that may be present in various stain repellents. DuPont Company is a major manufacturer of some of the relevant stain repellant products, according to a recent press release from USW.

The letters come on the heels of the announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of a proposed $16.5 million settlement with DuPont over charges that the company withheld documents on the health and environmental risks associated with PFOA. A draft report by the EPA's Science Advisory Board identified PFOA as a "likely human carcinogen."

Courts have found, according to the USW, "a duty to warn" exists where a manufacturer, distributor, or retailer had knowledge of the health or safety risks of a product, and consumers, due to a lack of warning, were harmed by a dangerous product. Lack of a warning may promulgate a legal liability.

Some familiar names of carpet retailers and manufacturers receiving the USW information are Dalton Carpet Outlet, Carpet Giant, Carpet Land, Mannington, Mohawk Industries, and Shaw Industries.

Fluorotelomers can also be included in grease resistant coatings for food packaging, personal care items and cleaning supplies, and are also found under the name Zonyl.

To read the full press release, click here.