July 9 2005
The News Journal (Delaware)
Health tests to start in DuPont deal
Experts raise concerns over potential risks posed by chemical
used to make Teflon
Staff and wire reports
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Tens of thousands of Ohio and West Virginia
residents could be tested over the next year to determine if their
health has been affected by drinking water containing a chemical
used in making the nonstick substance Teflon.
DuPont Co. agreed in February to pay for the health screenings
to settle a class-action lawsuit. Teflon is one of the company's
most popular products; the substance can be found in everything
from cookware and clothing to car parts and flooring.
The tests will begin this month for residents who receive their
drinking water from six public water districts, or from private
wells within the districts, where concentrations of ammonium perfluorooctanoate,
also known as PFOA and C8, have been found.
Paying for participation
The water supplies are near DuPont's Washington Works plant,
along the Ohio River near Parkersburg. About 80,000 residents
live in the districts, and it's hoped at least 60,000 will participate
in the screening.
"The more participants we have, the more valid the data
is going to be," said Dr. Paul Brooks, who will oversee the
collection process with retired hospital administrator Art Maher.
Residents will receive $150 to answer a health questionnaire.
If they agree to submit a blood sample, they will receive an additional
$250. Residents will walk out of the collection centers with a
check, Maher said.
Only residents who received the water for at least a year before
December 3, 2004, are eligible.
Testing pollution emissions
In a separate development on Friday, the Environmental Protection
Agency published details of an enforceable agreement with DuPont
and three other manufacturers that will require tests on pollution
emissions during incineration of compounds called fluoropolymers,
Federal officials are concerned that FPs could potentially release
or break down into PFOA when burned at high temperatures.
"This is the first set, but we expect more to come,"
said Enesta Jones, an EPA spokeswoman. "This is part of our
ongoing effort to understand PFOA and what potential health risks
may be involved."
DuPont, AGC Chemicals Americas Inc., Daikin America Inc., and
Dyneon LLC agreed to the testing, expected to cost $100,000 to
$150,000, according to a federal register notice.
The same notice said that regulators want
to determine if incinerators are a significant source of pollution
from PFOA, since resistance to extreme heat and flame retardance
is one of the qualities that makes the chemicals attractive.
DuPont last year reported drastically reducing emissions of compounds
that can break down into PFOA from its Chambers Works plant in
Deepwater, N.J., near the foot of the Delaware Memorial Bridge,
as well as at its West Virginia operations. Overall air and water
emissions have dropped by 85 percent in New Jersey and 96 percent
in West Virginia, according to the company.
Studying the compounds
Compounds associated with FPs and PFOAs include DuPont's Teflon
and a variety of nonstick and stain-resistant products. Major
users include the automobile, chemical processing, electronics,
aerospace, medical, construction and commercial food preparation
DuPont has reported that studies have found its Teflon cookware
products to be free of PFOA residues.
The company is one of several now working with the EPA on an
expected series of agreements to study the materials.
DuPont agreed to the health screenings in Ohio and West Virginia
to settle a 2001 lawsuit filed by residents who alleged the company
intentionally withheld and misrepresented information concerning
the nature and extent of the human health threat posed by C8 in
drinking water. About $70 million has been allocated for resident
payments and lab work.
Though it has been used since World War II, C8's long-term effects
on humans are unknown.
A federal scientific review panel has said the chemical is "likely"
to be carcinogenic to humans, but DuPont officials have disputed
the draft report. The panel agreed earlier this week to revise
the draft to better reflect opposing viewpoints before submitting
it to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by July 20.