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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_new12historyct.asp
September 27, 2003
The Marietta Times
Examining the water we drink:
Chemical giant 3M plays key role in C8 story
By Callie Lyons
In May 2000, 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacture), of Maplewood, Minn., announced its decision to voluntarily phase out an entire family of chemicals made up of eight carbon atom compounds. The decision included PFOA, known locally as C8.
"The main issue was that we found PFOS widespread in the environment and people," said Rick Renner, 3M spokesman. "It was a breakdown product of chemicals we were using. It included eight other carbon compounds, including PFOA."
Renner said the company stopped commercial sale of the substances, but still manufactures some for internal use to make fluoropolymers.
"We have done an enormous amount of research on the safety aspects," Renner said. "We decided to put it all out in the public record and have shared it with the EPA. Basically, our reading is that at the low levels at which the material is found, there are no health or environmental effects."
Renner said the decision to phase out the chemical family was a case of proactive corporate responsibility. It was 3M Co. that brought the prevalence of the chemicals to the attention of the EPA. This information eventually led to the largest investigation of a manufacturing chemical ever performed by the agency, which is under way now.
"The first issue was with PFOS," Renner said. "Later, the EPA became interested in PFOA."
While the company claims the phase-out was voluntary, some environmentalists believe otherwise.
Researchers from the Environmental Working Group of Washington, D.C., suggest that pressure from the EPA led the company to its decision. PFOS and PFOA are separate chemical substances within the eight-carbon chain family, each with its own set of hazards and paths of exposure. However, scientific data from 3M indicates the company was scrutinizing the fate and effects of both.
In 3M lab studies, PFOA produced dose-related increases in liver, pancreas and cell tumors. A 1992 study of workers at 3M's Chemolite plant in Cottage Grove, Minn., found that "10 years of employment in PFOA production was associated with a significant threefold increase in prostate cancer mortality."
Ultimately, 3M opted to develop two new alternative substances to replace PFOS in its products. One of the substances, perfluorobutane sulfonate, or PFBS, is a sister chemical to PFOS that does not break down. The environmental fate and toxicological profile of PFBS were extensively reviewed before the substance was put into use. Test findings indicate the substance is not bioaccumulative or toxic, according to the standards of the EPA. C8 timeline
DuPont began monitoring public water supplies for C8 as far back as 1984, but local water consumers were unaware of its presence until 2001, when it was discovered as a result of testing for a lawsuit brought by neighbors of the Washington, W. Va. plant.
1938 - Teflon discovered by Roy J. Plunkett.
1949 - DuPont introduced Teflon.
1981 - DuPont found C8 in the blood of female plant workers at Washington Works; 50 women reassigned after two of seven children born to female plant workers between 1979 and 1981 had birth defects.
1984 - DuPont found PFOA in the tap water of the Little Hocking Water Association, and other area public water supplies.
1999 - EPA receives new data on PFOS, a related chemical used by 3M Co. in Scotchgard products. The EPA begins an investigation of PFOA and related fluorochemicals.
May 2000 - 3M Co. announces the phaseout of PFOS products.
June 2000 - EPA identifies possible concerns with PFOS and PFOA.
July 2000 - The Telomer Research Group meets with the EPA for the first time to announce a voluntary program to research telomer products.
August 2001 - A class-action suit is filed in Wood County Circuit Court against DuPont on behalf of as many as 50,000 people affected by C8.
Jan. 2002 - C8 is discovered in the Little Hocking Water Association system.
April 2003 - EPA releases Preliminary Risk Assessment on PFOA.
May 2003 - Judge George W. Hill orders DuPont to pay for blood testing to monitor exposure in affected people. Hill calls C8 "toxic and hazardous." DuPont appeals the ruling and asks Hill to dismiss himself from the case.
June 2003 - EPA holds first public meeting to engage interested parties in talks to achieve enforceable consent agreements with regard to testing for the toxicity of PFOA.
September 2003 - Appeals in Wood County class-action lawsuit to be heard by the West Virginia Supreme Court.
Source: EPA and staff research