PFOA 2005
July 7, 2005. Our Opinion: C8 issue is no place for meddling with government.
Editorial. The Marietta Times (Ohio).

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July 7, 2005

The Marietta Times (Ohio)

Our Opinion: C8 issue is no place for meddling with government

First there’s word that an advisory panel to the Environmental Protection Agency has urged the agency to take the threat C8 may pose to humans more seriously, saying the chemical is likely to cause cancer in people. Now there’s word that the West Virginia arm of that agency allowed DuPont officials to edit — even nix — press releases and warnings about the chemical to the public.

Residents of Washington County and elsewhere who have C8 in their water are understandably disturbed by that information. So are we.

A West Virginia newspaper reported this week that a couple of years ago DuPont officials were regularly editing the regulating agency’s press releases or public announcements concerning C8 and the dangers it may pose. The chemical is used in the manufacturing of Teflon and is emitted into the air, land and water by the DuPont plant in Washington, W.Va., just across the Ohio River from Little Hocking where thousands of Washington County residents now have C8 in their drinking water.

The federal EPA is in the process of determining what level of C8, if any, is safe for humans. High concentrations of the chemical have caused cancer in lab animals, but so far there’s been no proof that C8 causes cancer in humans. DuPont claims the chemical is no threat to people.

Still, the company has settled a massive class-action lawsuit and will be paying for medical tests of people living in the area. Local water systems are also in line to get filtering devices.

We know it’s an issue on readers’ minds and reports that the Department of Environmental Protection in West Virginia was allowing DuPont to dictate what information went out to the public on C8 makes us that much more concerned.

The DEP’s practice was revealed through depositions given in connection to the lawsuit. In a sworn statement, a former spokesman for the DEP outlined how DuPont officials were given the authority to approve DEP press releases.

We think that’s an outrage and once again raises into question whether the DEP truly is objective or credible in its handling of the C8 issue.

The new head of the DEP says no such policy is in place under her watch. But that assurance is too little too late. We have to wonder what information DuPont kept from being released to the public over the years. And what harm may have been done in the meantime.

While it’s true the effect of the chemical on humans is still being researched, the fact the DEP has succumbed to DuPont pressure in the past, along with the recommendation of an EPA advisory group that C8 could be more of a threat to human health than initially believed, means the EPA must put C8 on the fast track. People need to know what the real danger is, and the longer the agency takes to determine that, the more danger could be done.

For its part, DuPont officials need to step back and put the public health first by letting the EPA at the state and federal level do it’s job unfettered.

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