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
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
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
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.