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PFOA is perfluorooctanoic acid and is sometimes called C8.
It is a man-made chemical and does not occur naturally in the environment.
The "PFOA" acronym is used to indicate not only perfluorooctanoic
acid itself, but also its principal salts.
The DuPont site where APFO is used as a reaction aid is the Washington Works (Route 892, Washington, West Virginia 26181) located along the Ohio River approximately seven miles southwest of Parkersburg, West Virginia.
The Little Hocking Water Association well field is located in Ohio on the north side of the Ohio River immediately across from the Washington Works facility. Consumers of this drinking water have brought a Class Action suit against the Association and DuPont for the contamination of their drinking water with DuPont's APFO, which residents and media refer to as C8.
PFOA is used as a processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolymers to produce hundreds of items such as non-stick surfaces on cookware (TEFLON), protective finishes on carpets (SCOTCHGUARD, STAINMASTER), clothing (GORE-TEX), and the weather-resistant barrier sheeting used on homes under the exterior siding (TYVEK).
June 7, 2003
The Columbus Dispatch
EPA, DUPONT DEBATE CONDITIONS FOR CHEMICAL STUDY
Air, soil, water near plant would be tested
By Jack Torry
WASHINGTON -- Federal regulators yesterday launched an effort designed to ultimately determine whether a chemical DuPont uses in making Teflon poses health hazards to people.
During a five-hour hearing at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, officials from DuPont and other major chemical companies clashed with environmentalists about scientific surveys the government requires from the industry.
The hearing, which attracted more than 200 representatives of the industry and environmental organizations, is expected to lead to an agreement about the extent of a study of the chemical. Should the study conclude that the chemical is harmful, then government could ban it.
The chemical -- perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as C8 or PFOA -- was used by DuPont and 3M to produce a variety of products, including nonstick pans and stain-resistant carpet. DuPont has produced Teflon at its Washington Works plant near Parkersburg, W.Va.
The Dispatch has reported worries that the chemical might cause developmental problems in young girls and women of childbearing age. Levels of PFOA have been detected in water systems near the plant, including those in Belpre and Tupper Plains, Ohio.
The EPA's decision to negotiate what is known as an enforceable consent agreement with DuPont was hailed by environmental organizations. They contend that DuPont and other manufacturers of PFOA have withheld documents and scientific results that would show the chemical has caused cancer and liver damage in rats.
"We hope that these proceedings will lead to a ban on PFOA and other problematic chemicals in the family,'' Kristina Thayer, a scientist for the Environmental Working Group, told federal officials. "The available science more than justifies that step.''
Thayer also expressed hope that the hearings will help Americans "understand why the government didn't have a clue about these problems until just a few years ago. We hope these proceedings help explain why Dupont, 3M and other 'science' companies that made billions of dollars selling Teflon, Scotchgard or other fluorochemical products, have been so irresponsible, or incompetent, in assessing and acknowledging their impacts on the environment and human health.''
Industry officials pledged to cooperate in developing a consent agreement, but they asserted that any study would conclude that PFOA is safe and does not pose any health problems.
Dr. Uma Chowdhry, global vice president for DuPont Central Research and Development, told regulators, "There have been no known adverse human health effects associated'' with PFOA in the 50 years the company has produced the chemical. Still, Chowdhry supported further study.
The types of tests that would be included in the consent agreement would involve examining air, water, and soil near the Washington Works plants. In addition, DuPont is likely to be required to turn over to the EPA its studies on the effect of PFOA on health.
Environmentalists urged EPA to order blood-monitoring studies. Some initial studies by DuPont and 3M indicated that the chemical has been found in human blood across the nation.
"This omission will seriously undermine the entire process,'' Thayer warned EPA officials.