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Friday, March 14, 2003
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EPA limits C8 airborne emissions

From Staff & Wire Reports

WASHINGTON - Limits on airborne emissions of C8 from DuPont's Washington Works plant will be enforced as part of the company's pollution permits, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection said.

The agency notified DuPont of the change in its permits by letter sent out this morning, DEP lawyer Perry McDaniel said.

C8, also known as ammonium perfluorooctanoate, is a key chemical used in the manufacturing of Teflon, but so far it has not been regulated by either state or federal agencies. Little is known for certain about the chemical, including its effects on human health.

A limit of 1 microgram per cubic meter of C8 was established as the long-term exposure limit in a report issued by the DEP's toxicology team in August. This means the average annual emission of C8 cannot eclipse that level at any point beyond DuPont's property.

DuPont agreed to limit C8 emissions in a December 2001 consent order. Modifying the company's pollution permits to include this standard allows for more consistency, because DuPont's air emission requirements are all in one place, McDaniel said.

McDaniel said the agency has made it clear that the standard imposed on DuPont's permits "is a provisional number, a number to use for compliance between now and the time that U.S. EPA comes out with an official standard.

"We thought it was important do something, and this is they way we could do that," he said.

Dawn Jackson, external affairs specialist at the Washington Works plant, said linking the standard to the permit will not alter DuPont's efforts to reduce emissions.

"DuPont Washington Works continues to improve its environmental performance with regard to C-8," she said. "For example, a recent report (from DuPont to the DEP) shows that between 1999 and 2002, DuPont Washington Works reduced its C-8 (air and water) emissions by more than 75 percent."

While DuPont has been cooperative in providing C8 information, McDaniel said, the letter requests more data. Recent changes made at the plant could affect the emission totals.

"We cannot make a decision, as of today, whether they are in compliance," he said.

Using emissions information from DuPont, the DEP will create models to project the levels of C8 in the air beyond the plant's fence line.

If the plant is not in compliance, it will be notified by the DEP and have 60 days to notify the agency how it plans to reach an acceptable level.

There is no evidence C8 causes any long-term health effects in humans, but the DEP supports further testing, McDaniel said.

DuPont officials have said there have been no known health effects on humans in the more than 50 years the company has used C8.

A class action lawsuit was filed in Wood County Circuit Court by area residents claiming the plant knowingly discharged amounts of C8 exceeding its own guidelines into the water supply and that information was hidden from the public.

The plaintiffs allege C8 has made them ill, including increased risk of cancer and other diseases.

They are seeking funds from DuPont for medical testing and monitoring of potential health problems, as well as monetary damages.

The DEP is reviewing workplace standards for exposure to C8 as a means of deciding whether a need exists to establish levels of C8 exposure for the general public.

"We want to look at the science behind workplace exposure limits to see if that would provide us with information to enforce emission levels," McDaniel said. "We want to find out if these workplace limits have any application to protection for the general public."

At the same time, the state DEP has asked for help from a number of other agencies, including the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio state EPA, McDaniel said.

 



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