August 16, 2005
The Marietta Times (Ohio)
Residents skeptical of C8 study
By Kevin Pierson and Justin McIntosh
Dr. Edward Emmett of the University of Pennsylvania School
of Medicine discusses his group’s findings on a broad
study of the chemical known as C8 Monday at Warren High School.
The chemical, manufactured by the Washington Works DuPont plant
in West Virginia, has been found in water sources down river
of the complex.
VINCENT — Little Hocking Water Association
customers will receive coupons for free bottled water paid for
by DuPont after an announcement Monday that preceded new information
regarding the health effects of the chemical C8.
According to officials with the water association,
the agreement was reached with DuPont because of concern over
recent information showing high levels of the chemical C8 in the
blood of its 12,000 customers.
The announcement came prior to a scheduled meeting at Warren
High School to discuss a study by Dr. Edward Emmett of the University
of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
The chemical ammonium perfluorooctanoate, also known as PFOA
and C8, has produced liver cancer in lab rats. C8 is handled at
DuPont’s Washington Works plant across the Ohio River from
the Little Hocking area.
A federal scientific review panel has said the chemical is “likely”
to be a carcinogenic to humans.
“Is there a cancer risk to C8? We did not find toxic effects
in the liver,” Emmett said of his study based on blood samples
taken last year and earlier this year from residents of Little
Hocking, Belpre, Cutler and Vincent.
Still, he said, he can’t rule out a connection between
cancer and C8 because the number of people he tested wasn’t
enough for a sampling and he would have had to monitor them over
a period of time.
Further testing for cancer risk “could be done and it should
be done,” he said.
Emmett conducted the study using an Environmental Justice Partnership
grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Studies.
The study concluded that there is no direct relationship between
C8 and health-related issues with the liver, thyroid or kidneys
but confirmed that water is the source of C8 in area residents’
“There’s no association between high levels of C8
and abnormalities in those tests,” Emmett said.
Many residents still expressed concern Monday that there are
health-related problems that have not yet been discovered.
Vincent resident Jason Johnson, of 21 McGill Road, questioned
Emmett during an hour-long question-and-answer session about why
he was giving suggestions to prevent potential C8-related problems.
Emmett responded that this study had only inspected C8 effects
on a limited number of health conditions and that while they had
not found anything yet to say it’s harmful, he’s not
ready to say the chemical is safe.
The study found that the highest
levels of C8 were found in children under the age of 6 and adults
over the age of 60.
Several residents also questioned the timing of the bottled water
announcement and wondered why, if the findings were positive,
there would be alternative sources of drinking water approved
In a statement issued Monday prior to the meeting, DuPont said
it is still the company’s position that the water association’s
water supply is safe and that there is no health risk in drinking
or cooking with the water.
David Altman, a lawyer from Cincinnati
representing the water association, said it is still the association’s
position that its customers not use any water with C8 in it.
“We’re concerned about having C8 in the water and
other compounds period,” Altman said. “This is to
cut down the greatest certain avenue of exposure which is taking
(water) into your body or cooking with it. We are by no means
making a statement about skin contact and whether that’s
good or bad.”
The agreement between DuPont and the water
association was reached late last week, Altman said, but the announcement
of the free bottled water was made Monday afternoon.
“I think no matter what (was) said in any direction that
people with substantial amounts of C8 in their bodies are going
to be more comfortable if they can stop putting C8 in their bodies
at least by drinking and cooking,” Altman said. “The
levels speak for themselves so that’s why a year ago we
were asking for ways to remedy this problem.”
The free bottled water will be available
until a carbon filtration system is installed and in full operation,
Altman said. The process of installing that system is about 50
percent complete and could be done in a few months.
The installation, financing and construction of the system is
a requirement of DuPont out of the nearly $343 million class action
“This is a very important step, but there’s a long
way to go,” Altman said.
The bottled water will be provided from DuPont through the water
association with coupons, Altman said. The coupons will can used
at participating stores.
A representative of the water association attended Monday’s
meeting and assured residents that once the filtration system
is in place they would expect “no breakthrough of C8”
into the water supply.
Veldene Sarver, 70, of Barlow, attended Monday’s meeting
and said that while Emmett answered the questions as best he knew
there were still things about the water and C8 that left her concerned.
“I really think that there are things they don’t
know,” Sarver said.
Johnson agreed with Sarver and said that while his concerns were
eased somewhat they weren’t totally eliminated because Emmett
is still not ready to declare the product safe.
“I am happy to find out so far that nothing is harmful.
I’m happy about that,” Johnson said.