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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).
Online at: http://www.mariettatimes.com/news/story/0927202003_new15exposure.asp
September 27, 2003
The Marietta Times
Examining the water we drink:
Local C8 exposure tough to sort out
By Callie Lyons
At the heart of the EPA investigation into PFOA, known locally as C8, are many questions about possible pathways for human exposure.
The EPA is trying to find out how the manufacturing chemical became so prevalent nationwide that it can be detected in the bloodstream of more than 90 percent of Americans. Industrial emissions alone, such as those from the DuPont Washington, W.Va., Works Plant on the Ohio River, cannot account for this widespread phenomenon.
Robert Griffin, director of the Little Hocking Water Association in Washington County, says it is likely his customers have the highest levels of C8 exposure in the world. The manufacturing chemical has been found in the air, water and soil of the water district.
"The EPA's concern is that it is in 92 percent of adults' blood," Griffin said. "The thinking is that they are probably getting it from products. People in this community use the same products as people all across the nation and have added exposures in water, air and soil."
It is generally believed C8 traveled to Little Hocking and other areas in Western Washington, Meigs, and Athens counties by means of simple migration through the Ohio River water and airborne emissions. However, the path of disbursement is varied and inconsistent. In the case of Little Hocking Water Association wells, those closest to the river have lower levels of exposure. The well furthest from the river has the highest level of exposure.
Information compiled by the EPA indicates most Americans already exhibit signs of exposure to PFOA, as evidenced by the detection of the substance in their bloodstreams. It is a phenomenon science and industry cannot explain. Limited access to fluoropolymer manufacturing plants for most of the population has led agency officials to conclude that there may be additional sources of PFOA in the environment, beyond those attributable to plant emissions. Whether those sources are coming from the air, water, sediment, food or other routes is unknown.
A multi-city study designed by Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus and analyzed at Centre Analytical Laboratories Inc., State College, Pa., indicates small, but measurable, quantities of PFOA residue can be found in such foods as milk, ground beef, bread, fruits and vegetables, whether or not the items were obtained in a city with known exposure to the manufacturing chemical via plant emissions.
Consumer products made with fluoronated polymers are not believed to contain C8 since the applications are typically treated with heat, which would remove the PFOA from final products before finding their way into the hands of consumers. However, agency officials are looking into fluorinated telomers, which are not made with PFOA, but degrade over time to form it.
Telomers are small fluorine-containing polymers produced by a specific process that utilizes the ability of certain chemicals to link together into chains of a defined length, according to the EPA. Some data suggests telomers may break down to form PFOA in the environment. Further, it is suspected telomers may be metabolized to form PFOA inside living organisms. "At present there aren't any steps that EPA recommends that consumers take to reduce exposures to PFOA because the sources of PFOA in the environment and the pathways by which people are exposed are not known," says the EPA Federal Register Notice, signed April 14. "Given the considerable scientific uncertainties, EPA has not made a determination as to whether PFOA poses an unreasonable risk to the public."