November 16, 2005
The Environmental Working Group. Press Release.
Former DuPont Top Expert:
Company Knew, Covered Up Pollution of Americans' Blood for 18
Documents: Company Couldn't
Find Safe Level of Exposure in 1973 to Chemical that Never Breaks
Down, Clings to Human Blood
Study Results Show Company
Found Safer Ways to Coat Food Packaging But Shelved Them to Save
WASHINGTON — Glenn Evers was a DuPont employee of 22 years,
one of the company's top technical experts and the chairman of
an invitation-only committee of its 40 best scientists and technical
experts. He holds six patents, and his work has, to date, made
the company an estimated $250 million in after-tax profits. Evers
was, by his description, a dedicated "company man."
He was also the company's top chemical engineer involved with
designing and developing new uses of grease-resistant, or perfluorinated,
chemical-based coating for paper food packaging.
Breakdown chemicals from these coatings and related sources are
now in the blood of 95 percent of Americans, and the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) has spent the last several years trying
to determine how they get there.
DuPont has claimed that it does not know how the chemicals got
there — and that are not aware that their product is responsible.
"If we had any reason to believe that [there] was a safety
issue for fluorinated telomers-based product, we wouldn't have
commercialized them," DuPont Director of Planning and Technology
Robert Ritchie told the Wilmington News Journal (11/23/03).
Today, however, Glenn Evers told in detail how his former employer
hid for decades that it was polluting Americans' blood with a
hyper-persistent chemical associated with the grease-resistant
coatings on paper food packaging.
Environmental Working Group (EWG) has obtained and today made
public a set of internal company documents that support Evers'
Combined, the Evers story and EWG's documents present a startling
chronology of DuPont's actions:
• Evers describes how, in the mid-1960s, the company
negotiated with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a weak
standard for how much of the paper chemical coating, which is
applied to give packaging grease or liquid resistance, could
contaminate food. The FDA at the time normally required a two-year
study for chemicals it wasn't familiar with, but agreed to base
DuPont's approval on a 90-day test with a 1,000-fold safety
• Evers explains how that standard, which remains in
effect today, was based on the premise that the chemical would
leave the body quickly. He explained that as a company expert,
he saw that the company knew, at least by 1981, that another
class of perfluorinated chemicals, such as PFOA (perfluorooctanoic
acid), accumulates in people. It is unclear whether or not the
company ever provided the FDA this information, but Evers explained
how the company continued to worry about this information throughout
• A company document shows that DuPont conducted a toxicological
study in 1973 in which it was unable to find a safe level of
exposure in lab animals, and that the chemicals were toxic to
the kidneys, liver and blood.
• A 1984 internal company memorandum raises the question
of which of these crucial findings, if any, from the 1973 study
were provided to the FDA.
• A key document shows that in 1987, DuPont's Dr. Richard
Goldbaum found that the company's marquee paper packaging coating
chemical, Zonyl RP, could contaminate food at over three times
the federal safety standard, while two effective alternatives
contaminated food at half the federal maximum level.
• Evers describes how he and others copied on the results
of that study knew they were "devastating." Evers
approached Goldbaum, and then Goldbaum's superior, Gerald Culling,
telling each of them that the results were an enormous problem
and that it would be unethical to continue selling the product.
Both men told Evers not to worry, and that they were "taking
care of it."
• Evers realized with time that the company had not ordered
a standard, internal process hazards review to find out why
the chemical was above FDA approved levels. The company did
not provide the information to customers, federal health officials
and the public. DuPont did not recall the faulty product, did
not stop its production, shelved the safer alternatives, and
continued to make Zonyl RP — effectively producing for
another 18 years the chemicals that would lead to the contamination
of consumers' blood.
• Evers says that one of the reasons the company stuck
with the problematic Zonyl RP was that it had adopted the practice
of blending substandard batches in with better batches —
and selling the blended versions to its industrial customers.
• Evers describes how DuPont's "Document Retention
Program" required researchers to label all hard copy files
to time their destruction. Company managers could audit employees
to ensure compliance, and other staff went through employees'
hard copy files to ensure documents were destroyed. A master
computer program at the company deleted files from company hard
drives after a certain period of time.
• Evers tells of how 3M, DuPont's competitor, rapidly
abandoned the $150 million per year business using perfluorinated
chemicals on paper food packaging when it realized in 2000 that
the chemicals were producing byproducts accumulating in human
blood and that those chemicals were harmful to developing lab
animals. Despite what it knew from the 1987 results by Dr. Goldbaum
and the persistence and toxicity of its own chemicals, DuPont
moved quickly to sell its similar chemistry to 3M's former customers.
EWG today sent the documents to the FDA's acting commissioner,
as well as the inspector general of its parent Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS), requesting the officials act on the
new information. The group is also referring documents to relevant
"These documents indicate a failure to disclose critical
public health information about a toxic chemical that never breaks
down, that gets into our bodies and stays there," said EWG
Senior Scientist Tim Kropp. "If we ever needed a reason to
reform the nation's toxic chemical laws, every American now has
one, courtesy of DuPont."
Evers' appearance and EWG's document release comes just a week
before a potentially significant date in the civil suit the Bush
administration's EPA has pursued against the company for suppressing
health studies on PFOA, which is used in the production of Teflon
pan coatings. Bush EPA political appointees could seek the maximum
possible fine of $314 million, but they have shown little appetite
for pursuing such a penalty. The next court date for the civil
suit was negotiated to fall on Wednesday, November 23, the day
before the Thanksgiving holiday and the busiest travel day of
"DuPont thinks it has the right to pollute your blood with
chemicals, but it doesn't," said Evers. "Someone could
get a fine for dumping trash if he threw a used tire into the
creek behind my house. This company continues to pollute the blood
of the American public with a toxic chemical — what is it
going to end up paying?"
90-day toxicity study in rats and dogs
DuPont Internal Memo discussing FDA rejection of Zonyl paper use
DuPont Internal memo showing Zonyl over 3 times the FDA limit
DuPont Internal memo including petition to FDA showing approved
EWG letter to FDA, November 16, 2005
letter to FDA, November 16, 2005