Sunday Gazette-Mail (Charleston, West Virginia)
August 28, 2005
has no plans to revisit C8 water limit
By Ken Ward Jr.
West Virginia regulators do not plan to re-examine their water
pollution “screening level” for the toxic chemical
C8, despite an independent scientists’ conclusion that the
number is flawed.
The state Department of Environmental Protection has no plans
to reconsider its limit for C8 in drinking water of 150 parts
per billion, said agency spokeswoman Jessica Greathouse.
Greathouse said that the DEP would wait and see what —
if any — recommendations for C8 regulations come out of
a federal review of the chemical.
During a public meeting Aug. 15, University of Pennsylvania researcher
Dr. Edward Emmett recommended that the DEP figure was far too
high and should be revised.
“I think the nicest thing I can say is that it may need
some revision in light of the levels found in people,” Emmett
said during the meeting in Vincent, Ohio.
Emmett said that his review did not link C8 exposure from area
drinking water to liver, thyroid or kidney problems. Emmett emphasized
that his study did not consider cancer or developmental problems
Emmett encouraged Parkersburg-area residents not to drink water
contaminated with C8. He suggested bottled water as an alternative,
until new treatment systems are installed.
C8 is another name for perfluorooctanoate, and is also known
as perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA.
At the Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg, DuPont has
used C8 for more than 50 years in the production of Teflon. The
popular product is best known for its use on nonstick cookware,
but C8 is also used in everything from waterproof clothing to
stain-repellent carpet and ball-bearing lubricants.
For years, C8 and DuPont’s emissions of it have basically
Fueled in large part by information uncovered by lawyers suing
DuPont over C8 pollution, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
has launched a priority review of the chemical’s dangers.
EPA has also sued DuPont for allegedly hiding information about
C8 toxicity, and the company is facing a criminal investigation
for concealing data about the chemical’s hazards.
In May 2002, DEP finalized its 150-part-per-billion
C8 limit following a study led by Dee Ann Staats, who was then
the agency’s science adviser. Staats’ work on the
project was funded by DuPont, and the chemical company had a representative
on the study team.
The study was launched as part of a November 2001 settlement
between DuPont and the DEP to resolve potential C8-related pollution
violations by the Washington Works plant.
Under the deal, the DEP C8 screening level was to be the “concentration
in a specific media such as air, water or soil that is likely
to be without an appreciable risk of deleterious effects during
a lifetime in the human population.” If C8 exposures were
found to be above that level, DuPont was required to submit to
the DEP a plan to reduce those exposures.
Emmett, whose research is funded by the
federal government, said he was especially concerned about childhood
exposure to C8.
In his study, Emmett said he found that
C8 levels of 150 parts per billion in water would eventually result
in blood levels in children of 20,000 to 25,000 parts per billion.
Such concentrations, Emmett said, are greater than scientists
have found even in plant employees who work directly with C8.
“We don’t know that it’s safe for children,”
Emmett said. “I think it needs to be revisited.”
Greathouse said that since Staats left
her post as the DEP’s science adviser, there is no one left
at the agency who can answer detailed questions about the C8 screening
“We don’t have plans to review the number, but we
are looking to EPA for guidance,” Greathouse said last week.
“If and when they develop a number, we will follow their
Chris Caldwell, a DuPont spokesman, declined to comment for this
To contact staff writer Ken Ward Jr., use e-mail or call 348-1702.