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More than just C8 a concern

By Sam Shawver,

There’s more than C8 in the drinking water and bloodstreams of some Little Hocking Water Association customers, according to a lawsuit the company filed against DuPont Corp. on Monday.

In addition to C8 (ammonium perfluorooctanoate or PFOA), the suit says testing has revealed less concentrated amounts of other perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), including C4 through C11.

The mention of other chemicals in the water association’s lawsuit was a surprise to at least one person, a spokesperson with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. On Friday though another Ohio EPA official said the state agency was aware of these other chemicals, but found very small amounts of the compounds in tests of the water system in 2002.

“We’ve done very limited testing and found these other perfluorinated compounds in the water and in people’s blood,” said D. David Altman, attorney for the water association.

“So far all the testing DuPont has done is only for C8,” he said. “For some reason DuPont doesn’t test for the other compounds.”

In other C8 related news, officials with the Brookmar/C8 Health Project, that has been testing residents who may have ingested water affected by C8, are expected to announce Tuesday the reopening of the health project questionnaire testing.

Testing was closed in March after 70,000 people had completed the questionnaire. But because some of those tested were disqualified, several openings have become available for qualified individuals to take part in the project.

More information will be released during a luncheon for the health project volunteers at noon on Tuesday.

The additional chemicals mentioned in the lawsuit are apparently present in C8 shipments that DuPont receives from manufacturers, according to Altman.

The company uses the compound to make Teflon. But an advisory committee to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has called C8 a “likely” carcinogen that could be harmful to humans.

“Historically, C8 has been shipped with a suite of other PFCs,” said Altman. “If at any point in the past they were putting a lot of C8 into the water, that may be a marker for the other compounds.

“Why do we bring this up?,” he asked. “Because generally speaking, the longer chained PFCs, C9 and up, are thought to be even more dangerous than C8. And the scientific consensus is that these longer chains are more difficult to break down than C8.”

But DuPont spokesperson Robin Ollis says C8 must be pure to use during manufacturing.

“What we use in the plant is C8 in the manufacture of fluoro products, and it has to be in a pure form in order for the process to work properly,” she said.

“And we don’t think anyone can definitively say where the other compounds (in the water) come from,” said Ollis.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Heidi Griesmer said her agency knew blood testing was being done to look for compounds in addition to C8.

“Ohio EPA is aware that blood sampling showed they looked for other compounds,” she said. “But as far as we know we have not seen testing to show the chemicals in drinking water.”

Griesmer noted that in 2002 Ohio EPA had requested that DuPont do a “split test” to determine if three compounds, including C8, were present in the water.

She said the test for two other perfluorinated compounds, designated as PFOS and PFHpA, showed no presence of PFOS, and that the presence of PFHpA was only a small 2 to 5 percent of the presence of C8.

DuPont has agreed to construct a C8 filtration plant for the Little Hocking Water Association, and plans for the plant have been submitted to the Ohio EPA, although the association has not yet agreed to those plans.

“We want to test the water as soon as they build the granulated activated carbon filtration system to see if it removes all of those other compounds, too,” said Altman.

The lawsuit will further slow down construction of the filtration facility, which Ollis says should remove C8 as well as any other compounds.

“Data provided by the Little Hocking Water Association does indicate trace levels of other compounds at or below background levels,” she said.

“But the good news is that testing at the water plants already operating in Pomeroy and Tuppers Plains/Chester is showing that the facilities are doing what they’re supposed to do,” said Ollis.

“We believe that a carbon filtration system will be effective in removing all of those compounds. But getting an agreement in place with Little Hocking is critical to beginning construction on that plant,” she said.


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