PFOA 2005
June 28, 2005. EPA panel calls C-8 a ‘likely’ carcinogen.
By Jeff Montgomery. The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware).


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June 28, 2005

The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware)

EPA panel calls C-8 a ‘likely’ carcinogen


A chemical used to make DuPont’s Teflon coatings and thousands of other consumer and industrial products and coatings is a “likely” carcinogen, and may pose greater risks beyond cancer, according to a review by an Environmental Protection Agency advisory panel.

The EPA Science Advisory Board’s “Perfluorooctanoic Acid Human Health Risk Assessment Review Panel” plans to take public comments on the draft report during a meeting July 6 in Washington, D.C. Agency officials released the draft document, labeled “Do Not Cite or Quote,” today in advance of the public comment session.

“While human data is ambiguous, two separate feeding studies demonstrate that PFOA is a multi-site carcinogen,” the report noted, adding that the “likely” designation “is typically applied to agents that have tested positive in more than one species, sex, strain, site or exposure route, with or without evidence of carcinogenicity in humans.”

Members of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., said the findings appear to back up the EPA’s recent decision to launch civil and criminal investigations into DuPont’s handling of health information involving PFOA, also known as C-8. DuPont could face millions in fines in those probes.

“This is significant, because it pushes the process along,” said Richard Wiles, senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group. “This definitely kick-starts it, and really makes it harder for the EPA not to move forward aggressively” with further risk studies.

DuPont said that findings from past studies warrant a different recommendation. But the company also said it “recognizes that the presence of PFOA in human blood raises questions that should be addressed.”

Past studies have found unexplained low levels of PFOA-type chemicals in the bloodstreams of humans and animals around the globe. Some studies already have provided “suggestive evidence” that the chemicals may increase cancer risks, and may remain in the environment for thousands of years.

“Based on an evaluation of human health and toxicology studies, DuPont believes that the weight of evidence suggests that PFOA exposure does not cause cancer in humans, and does not pose a health risk to the general public,” the company said. “To date, no human health effects are known to be caused by PFOA even in workers who have significantly higher exposure levels than the general population.”

DuPont already has announced a plan to drastically reduce the amount of PFOA used in Teflon production by the end of next year.

Earlier this year, the EPA released a separate draft report noting that exposure to PFOA may increase the risk of developmental or immune disorders and other health problems. The same report also said blood levels in the general population appear to be hundreds or thousands of times lower than the minimum expected to produce adverse effects in rats and monkeys.

But human bodies may retain and concentrate the pollutants for much longer periods than animals, the EPA cautioned. Higher exposure to PFOA-type compounds in the workplace or in neighborhoods around factories that handle the chemicals also are a concern.

Contact Jeff Montgomery at 678-4277 or

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