PFOA 2005
August 16, 2005. Residents skeptical of C8 study.
By Kevin Pierson and Justin McIntosh. The Marietta Times (Ohio).

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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’ blood.

“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 now.

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 lawsuit settlement.

“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.

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