FLUORIDE ACTION NETWORK PESTICIDE PROJECT
Return to FAN's Pesticide Homepage
Return to PFOA Class Action Suit
Return to Newspaper articles and Documents related to this Class Action
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).
The Marietta Times
June 7, 2003
EPA hears from local citizens
By: Callie Lyons
WASHINGTON - Residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley asked that they not be forgotten at the first U.S. Environmental Protection Agency public hearing Friday to gather information about the manufacturing chemical known as C8.
"Please do not forget us," said Robert Griffin, general manager of the Little Hocking Water Association. "Please give us data and information we can have confidence in."
The issue is of great significance to Griffin and the 12,000 consumers of the local water district, particularly since C8 has been detected in their drinking supply in quantities greater than any other place.
Industry experts, scientists and environmentalists agreed to combine their efforts Friday and participate in testing that the EPA has determined will help paint a clearer picture of the manufacturing chemical known as C8 and its impact on humans and the environment.
The agency has decided more information is needed about the substance, which has been detected in the bloodstream of more than 90 percent of the population, particularly since it causes developmental and reproductive problems in laboratory animals.
While the EPA continues to refine a preliminary risk assessment evaluating the chemical's toxicity, Charles Auer, director of the EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, said they also want to research the sources of the chemical and the pathways by which humans become exposed to it.
A large hearing room in the building that formerly housed the Interstate Commerce Commission was filled to capacity with hundreds of people with an interest in the future of the chemical. The public forum, which lasted about five hours, was conducted to negotiate terms of the tests, which need to be performed with the assistance and resources of industry experts.
People who live in the Mid-Ohio Valley and are exposed to the chemical because of emissions from a nearby DuPont plant are anxious for a solid determination of its potential hazards to humans. The issue has prompted a class-action lawsuit in Wood County Circuit Court against the Washington Works plant in West Virginia that has been using and releasing C8 for 50 years. DuPont officials maintain their stance that C8 is not harmful to humans. But, many local residents would like scientific evidence to confirm their claims.
Della Tennant of Lubeck, W.Va., was one of the first local residents to become aware of the presence of C8, which is known to scientists as PFOA, even though DuPont had been using it for decades. Tennant and her husband own property near the plant and began to suspect something was wrong when their herd of cattle began to die of an unexplainable wasting disease.
"The cause of death was never proven, but it was associated with contamination from DuPont," Tennant said before testifying at the Friday hearing.
Over time, the Tennants lost 280 cattle. Then family members who lived nearby began to get sick.
"Our lawyers went to battle for us and discovered the C8," Tennant said.
The Tennants' lawsuit against DuPont prompted a number of investigations into the manufacturing chemical, which are now in progress. It became apparent at Friday's hearing that EPA officials will be coordinating their efforts with several agencies in order to get the final answers on PFOA.
The Centers for Disease Control, the Consumer Protection Commission, the Ohio EPA, and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection will be cooperating with the EPA.
Griffin asked the EPA to consider medical monitoring of his customers to observe them for the effects of exposure to C8. Although the water in several districts that border the Ohio River have contaminated water supplies, the Little Hocking Water Association has the highest test levels of contamination.
Griffin believes the water customers would make the best possible test subjects for the chemical because they are directly exposed through several known pathways. C8 is not only in their water, but has been found in their air and soil.
"Unfortunately, we are a ready-made study group," Griffin said. "We believe there is a need for this study. We request that we not be forgotten in the process."
Auer said the agency would not be pursuing blood testing of the local residents as part of this process, but may revisit the issue at a later date.
C8 is a key ingredient in the making of Teflon by DuPont. Global Vice President, Dr. Uma Chowdry, testified that the corporation was committed to "further reduce exposure and provide information" although they do not consider the chemical a toxin.
"We are more than willing to share information about the chemical," Chowdry said. "We have high ethical standards and respect the rights and desires of consumers around the world to know the products they rely on are safe. In 50 years there have been no known adverse human health effects. We are confident PFOA poses no danger to the public at current levels based on scientific evidence."
The Telomer Research Program and the SPI Fluoropolymer Manufacturers Group, industry trade organizations of plastics producers, took on voluntary but integral roles at Friday's hearing and agreed to begin outlining terms for several of the proposed tests immediately.
Kristina Thayer, a scientist for the Environmental Working Group, requested that the EPA keep all of the study results open for analysis and not subject to rules governing confidential business information. The trade organizations agreed to form a technical committee along with Thayer and other interested parties to iron out the details for releasing information.