Two Florida law firms said on Tuesday they had filed class action lawsuits against DuPont Co. , charging the giant chemicals producer hid the potential health hazards of its Teflon nonstick cookware coatings.

The lawsuits, the first seeking class action status and lodged on behalf of consumers of Teflon against E.I. DuPont de Nemours Co., were filed by Kluger, Peretz, Kaplan & Berlin PL and Oppenheim Pilelsky PA in federal courts in several states.

The plaintiffs are calling for DuPont to pay damages to class members, create a fund for medical monitoring of consumers who purchased products containing Teflon and put warning labels on cookware with Teflon.

The class of potential plaintiffs could well contain almost every American that has purchased a pot or pan coated with DuPonts nonstick coating, plaintiffs lawyer Alan Kluger said in a press statement.

In May, DuPont said it had received a subpoena from the U.S. Justice Departments Environmental Crimes Section to turn over documents about perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used to make Teflon coatings.

That came a month after DuPont agreed to settle allegations by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency that it had failed to disclose health data about PFOA for two decades. The company has set aside $15 million to cover that settlement, which has not yet been finalized.

DuPont shares registered no impact from the news of the new suits, trading up 0.6 percent or 24 cents at $43.92 per share in afternoon dealings on the New York Stock Exchange.

This is not a surprise to investors, said David Begleiter, chemicals analyst with Deutsche Bank, who does not own the stock. It was a natural evolution of the recent events at the EPA.

In an e-mail statement, DuPont said it would vigorously defend itself against the allegations in the lawsuit.

Consumers using products sold under the Teflon brand are safe. Cookware coated with DuPont Teflon nonstick coatings does not contain PFOA, DuPont spokesman Clif Webb said in the statement.

PFOA, also known as C-8, is used in the process of making Teflon. Tests by 3M Co. , the original manufacturer of PFOA, have shown high levels of exposure to the chemical may cause liver damage and reproductive problems in rats.

PFOA can remain in humans for up to four years, according to the EPA, and small amounts of the chemical are found in a large proportion of the general U.S. public.



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