PFOA 2005
August 16, 2005. Findings by U Penn Researcher on Teflon Chemical.
Briefing Memorandum. The Environmental Working Group.

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August 16, 2005

The Environmental Working Group

B R I E F I N G     M E M O R A N D U M

TO: Interested Media

FR: Dr. Tim Kropp, Jane Houlihan / Environmental Working Group

RE: Findings by U Penn Researcher on Teflon Chemical

Last night, Dr. Edward Emmett of the University of Pennsylvania reported on the newly completed blood study of 378 Ohio residents at a community meeting in Vincent, Ohio. Vincent is one of several southeast Ohio towns drinking tap water contaminated with the Teflon chemical from operations at DuPont's Parkersburg, West Virginia plant. Other communities with Teflon-contaminated tap water include Little Hocking, Cutler, and Belpre, Ohio; Columbus, Georgia; and Oakdale, Minnesota.

As noted in today's Charleston Gazette, the top finding in this research is that people should avoid drinking tap water contaminated with a parts-per-billion level of the Teflon chemical known as C8 (or PFOA), after finding that the chemical accumulates in children, and builds up in human blood at levels 106 times higher than those in tap water. The study author specifically recommended that parents avoid using the polluted water in infant formula, and called his new findings on children's blood levels "the exact opposite of what we would want to see from a public-health perspective."

Dr. Emmett's study findings showed that Ohio residents drinking Teflon-contaminated tap water face accumulated high levels of C8, especially children. Among study findings are the following:

• The highest blood levels of the Teflon chemical C8 are found in children ages 6 and younger, and people over 60. Levels in children are of particular concern, since C8 is linked to a wide array of birth defects and developmental problems in lab studies.

• Ohio residents drinking contaminated tap water have median levels of C8 more than 60 times higher than the national median level (340 ppb versus 5.6 ppb).

Though the health effects of greatest concern to federal officials are cancer and development effects, Dr. Emmett tested for liver and thyroid damage among the people tested, which were not detected in this study.

It's important to note that the study did not assess the most sensitive health effects linked to the Teflon chemical in lab studies - cancer and developmental harm - the two health problems of greatest concern to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its outside expert panel that recently found C8 to be a "likely human carcinogen." These health effects could not be addressed by the new study because the study population was too small to find effects.

In addition to recommending bottled water for local residents, Dr. Emmett advised the State of West Virginia to reassess its controversial tap water safety level, developed in close coordination with DuPont and 150 times higher than DuPont's original tap water safety level for company employees (150 ppb versus DuPont's 1 ppb safety limit).

The Teflon chemical C8 is the subject of an ongoing priority safety review at EPA because of its unique combination of toxicity and persistence <ETH> the chemical never breaks down in the environment. The chemical pollutes the blood of more than 90 percent of Americans, due to exposure to stain repellants that coat hundreds of products, such as food wraps, carpeting and furniture.

EPA has sued DuPont over suppressing Ohio tap water pollution studies, and studies showing C8 in cord blood from babies born with birth defects to female employees at DuPont's Parkersburg plant. This new University of Pennsylvania study provides further confirmation of the capacity for the Teflon chemical to build up in people's blood at levels of concern.

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