By Callie Lyons, firstname.lastname@example.org
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a
preliminary report Monday which said the chemical commonly
known as C8 will have to undergo further scrutiny to determine
if new rules are necessary in the interest of public health.
The EPA says it is premature to say whether the chemical,
also known as PFOA, poses a risk to people.
The EPA will be expediting its scrutiny to make way for the
most extensive scientific examination ever on this type of
chemical, according to Steve Johnson, assistant administrator
of the EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic
The EPA's alarm over the chemical, which has been used by
the DuPont Washington, W.Va., Works plant across the Ohio River from western Washington County for
more than 50 years, stems from the fact that it causes delayed
sexual maturation and mortality in lab animals.
The chemical, which is carcinogenic to animals, has not
been assessed on any potential to cause cancer in humans.
"We have not done an assessment of cancer potential," said
Charles Auer, director of the EPA Office of Pollution
Prevention and Toxics. "There is evidence it is carcinogenic
to animals. But, there is considerable debate as to the
relevance to humans."
DuPont officials insist the chemical, which was detected in
the drinking water of people who live near the plant on both
sides of the Ohio River, is harmless to humans. But, DuPont
officials respect the position that there are still questions
to be addressed.
"DuPont remains confident that our use of PFOA over the
past 50 years has not posed a risk to either human health or
the environment, and that our products are safe," said Richard
Angiullo, vice president and general manager of DuPont
Fluoroproducts. "Our confidence is based on an extensive
scientific database. This database includes both publicly
available, peer-reviewed scientific studies built throughout
our long use of this compound, as well as worker surveillance
More than 3,000 residents have filed a class action lawsuit
against the company for exposing them to the chemical. A
Friday hearing will determine whether residents will be
granted medical monitoring at the expense of DuPont.
Johnson said the presence of C8 indicates sources of the
chemical beyond its release from manufacturing plants, such as
DuPont. Evidence suggests the general U.S. population has been
exposed to the chemical at very low levels. But uncertainty
remains about exactly how it got there.
An EPA risk assessment was unable to determine the sources
of the chemical, or the ways people were exposed. So, the
agency is intensifying and accelerating its examination
process to resolve scientific uncertainties.
The EPA is inviting the scientific community to gather and
identify information relating to the chemical. Officials will
evaluate comments from the public and begin a process to enter
into agreements. A public meeting will be held June 6 in
Washington, D.C., for interested parties to publicly negotiate
Despite claims by the Environmental Working Group, a
Washington-based environmental research organization, that the
chemical should be taken off the market and phased out of
manufacturing processes, the EPA does not believe there is
enough information to draw that conclusion. The working group
believes Monday's EPA announcement is significant.
"We would like it to go faster, but they are constrained by
a weak law," said Richard Wiles, senior vice president of the
Environmental Working Group.
Wiles said he and his colleagues are satisfied with the
performance of the EPA, but dissatisfied with DuPont's
handling of the matter.
Robert W. Rickard, director for the DuPont Haskell
Laboratory for Health and Environmental Sciences, said
industry continues to expand the knowledge available about