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61,000 tested as part of C8 study

By Pamela Brust, Special to the Times

PARKERSBURG — Brookmar Inc., coordinator of the C8 Health Project, reports 61,000 people have been tested as part of the C8 Health Project.

Ohio and West Virginia residents in the region are participating in a health screening involving a chemical used to produce Teflon. The screening is part of a settlement with DuPont Co. over the company’s use of ammonium perfluorooctanoate, also known as C8, at its Washington, W.Va., Works plant near Parkersburg. Residents sued the company in 2001 claiming DuPont contaminated their public and private drinking water wells. The settlement involved residents living in six public water districts in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

At the time, lawyers involved in the case said the screening could include up to 80,000 residents.

Residents can receive up to $400 if they complete a health questionnaire and provide a blood sample for later analysis.

Brookmar, an independent commission appointed by the court to oversee and manage the C8 project, is encouraging anyone who has successfully completed a C8 health questionnaire and not been tested to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

“At this point, we are no longer taking any more questionnaires,” said Dr. Paul Brooks with Brookmar. “We don’t know what the final number is going to be.

He also noted anyone who has successfully completed a questionnaire and has not yet been tested should call (304) 865-2397 as soon as possible.

Though used since World War II, C8’s long-term effects on humans, if any, are unknown. The screenings and a subsequent analysis will try to determine if there is a link between C8 and health problems including cancer and heart disease.

DuPont has maintained that C8 is not hazardous to human health.

Brooks said the Lubeck, W.Va., testing site, which was the first to open in July 2005 has now been closed. Anyone from that area who still needs to be tested is being sent to the Belpre testing site.

“We can’t keep all the sites operating for just a few people. It’s going to be at least mid-June before we finish or it may be late June before we finish at Pomeroy and Mason County,” Brooks said. “The Pomeroy/Mason County sites are still pretty well booked.”

At peak times, there were 350-360 people being run through all the sites combined on a daily basis, averaging around 55 to 60 people in each of the six sites.

Paul Porter, of 2407 Hanvey Ave., Belpre, got his C8 test done earlier this year and came with his uncle and nephew to get their tests done Friday.

Porter said the test is important because it can show the levels of not only C8 but also other health factors and was pleased with how well his procedure went.

Porter was relieved to know his health is in good shape.

Porter said he feels residents who haven’t gotten their tests done yet need to schedule the test quickly to discover what their C8 level is and if they need to be concerned.

“Get it done, right away,” Porter said.

Brooks said most individuals are receiving their test results within two weeks.

"Due to the widespread participation and cost savings implemented during the project, they may reach a total of 70,000 when all testing is complete. Estimates were the affected population included between 60,000 and 80,000 people. The participation rate is believed to be in excess of 90 percent of the affected population," noted Charleston attorney Harry Deitzler, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys in the original lawsuit filed against the DuPont plant.

Kevin Pierson contributed to this article.


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