PFOA 2005
July 13, 2005. Hundreds fill cafeteria for C8 health project.
By Tim Brust. The Marietta Times (Ohio).

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July 13, 2005

The Marietta Times (Ohio)
Hundreds fill cafeteria for C8 health project

By Tim Brust

Hundreds fill the cafeteria at Belpre Middle School for the C8 health project Tuesday.

Hundreds of people attended an informational session concerning the C8 health project Tuesday night in Belpre.

Hundreds of others walked away with only a pamphlet and other printed material because there wasn’t enough room for them at the Belpre Middle School cafeteria.

The session was the second in a series of public meetings held to explain how health information and blood samples would be collected from area residents who have been drinking water contaminated by the chemical ammonium perfluorooctanate, commonly known as C8.

The substance is used at DuPont’s Washington Works in the process of making Teflon and has been detected in the water supplies of a number of communities, including Belpre and Little Hocking. A link between the chemical and diseases in humans hasn’t been established. DuPont has maintained and continues to claim there is no detrimental health effects from C8. It’s hoped the study will help establish whether there is a link or not.

With only 350 seats available in the meeting room, coordinators held not one but two informational sessions. Those who didn’t want to wait for the second session to start at 8:15 p.m. were offered some printed material on the project.

Frances Barickman and her husband, Kip, were disappointed that the crowd was larger than the facility could accommodate. She said they drove to Belpre from Little Hocking to get some firsthand information about the health survey.

Kip Barickman said he has a special interest because he retired from DuPont more than a decade ago and worked with C8.

“I worked in the lab for years,” he said.

Norman Burba of Vincent said he, too, was concerned about his health.

“I wanted to find out what I’m drinking,” he said.

Tim Collins wanted some general information about the testing but said it appeared that everything being presented last night was also available on the project Web site, .

“I’ll just get it off the Internet,” he said.

Lisa Starcher-Collins of Salter and Associates, a public relations firm assisting with various parts of the project, said organizers simply didn’t know what the response would be when they originally scheduled four meetings, all set to start at 7 p.m.

She suggested the large turnout signals that many people are interested in being part of the health survey.

“Ultimately, it’s a good thing,” she said.

Project coordinators Dr. Paul Brooks and Art Maher explained that participants would fill out a health survey, either on-line with a computer, on the telephone or by obtaining a hard copy of the questions. After that, if they wished, they could also set an appointment to give a blood sample.

Brooks stressed that the tests were not being done for drugs, the A.I.D.S. virus or sexually transmitted diseases and that all the results would be strictly confidential.

“Art and I will keep that under lock and key,” Brooks said.

Questions from the public included who would be eligible for the tests, what lab would analyze the blood samples and how long C8 had been in the drinking water.

The answer to the last question is about 50 years and that surprised John Kaufman of Belpre.

“I was kind of amazed how long it’s been going on,” he said.

Some of those who attended the meeting were under the impression it would detail the health effects of C8 instead of simply outlining how the testing would be done. They were among those that felt the meeting wasn’t productive.

But Sandra Norris of Belpre who among those who felt it was worth the time to attend.
“It was a plus,” she said.

Residents who live in one of a half a dozen water districts and consumed the water for at least a year prior to December 3, 2004 will be paid $150 to fill out a health survey and another $250 to provide a blood sample. Former residents who moved to another area are also invited to participate if they meet the guidelines.

Blood testing is expected to begin in late July in Wood County and in early August in Washington County.

Starcher-Collins said since the crowd was so large in Belpre, organizers might schedule another meeting in Little Hocking.

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