July 20, 2005

Independent tests find higher levels of C8
Athens Messenger
By Callie Lyons

Higher than anticipated levels of C8 detected in the blood serum of a few Little Hocking Water Association customers are elevating concerns over the DuPont manufacturing chemical that has contaminated local water supplies.

“The results to me seem very high,” said Robert Griffin, water district general manager. “We have been concerned about the exposure of our customers and we need information to make decisions – both short term and long term.”

C8, also known as PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid, was first detected in several area drinking water supplies in 2002 – the result of plant emissions from the nearby DuPont Washington Works Plant, which uses the chemical as a processing aid in the production of Teflon.

As a consequence of a class action lawsuit filed against DuPont in Wood County Circuit Court by area water consumers who fear the long-term effects of C8 exposure, a broad health study is under way and will attempt to test 60,000 of the estimated 80,000 people with contaminated water supplies. The C8 Health Project is expected to be completed within a year.

However, in order to learn more about C8 exposure in local people more quickly, the Little Hocking Water Association paid for independent testing on 25 current customers. The water system primarily serves Washington County, but extends into a portion of eastern Athens County.

Griffin made results of the tests public Tuesday in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The results show levels of PFOA varying from a low of 112 parts per billion in a female aged 36-45 who consumed area water for nine years, to a high of 1,040 parts per billion in a male aged 36-45 who consumed area water for 37 years. No trends are apparent in the data as the second-highest level of 629 parts per billion appeared in a male under the age of 15 who consumed Little Hocking Association water for only 3 years. The three highest levels appear in males and the highest reading for a female is 488 parts per billion for someone aged 16-25 who consumed area water for 16 years.

The Little Hocking Water Association tested the 25 consumers not only for PFOA and its sister chemical PFOS, the voluntarily banned 3M Scotchgard chemical, but the Association also tested for the presence of ten other, similar chemicals. Axys Analytical Services, LTD, a Canada-based laboratory, performed the testing.

“This tells us we need more information about this,” Griffin said. “We are concerned about the other chemicals as well. We believe they are related to the same source.”

Last week, the Environmental Working Group, a Washington DC-based scientific research, advocacy and watchdog group, released a new study indicating that PFOA can also be found in the bloodstream of newborn babies.

"This study finding 20 chemicals in newborn babies shows that pollution does move from mother to baby,” said Dr. Tim Kropp, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group.“

The groundbreaking study examined the blood of 10 babies born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals. Ultimately, the study detected 287 different chemicals, chemical compounds, toxic by-products, and pesticides that were polluting the blood of newborn babies immediately after birth. Included in the chemical testing were eight perfluorochemicals used as stain and oil repellants in fast food packaging, clothes and textiles - including the Teflon chemical PFOA.

This is the first publicly acknowledged study revealing the detection of PFOA in newborn blood.

“In the 10 babies whose blood we tested, all of them had indestructible, cancer-causing Teflon chemicals in them at birth, so they are already polluted during their first, most vulnerable and sensitive years,” Kropp said. “DuPont and other chemical companies should be held responsible for polluting air, water, and people near their plants and in the rest of the country as well."

The DuPont Co. maintains their stance that the presence of the chemical in local drinking water supplies does not constitute a risk to the people who consume it.

"Based on existing scientific data, DuPont believes that PFOA exposure does
not pose any health risk to the general public,” said Chris Caldwell, regional public affairs manager for DuPont. “To date, no human health effects are known to be caused by PFOA - even in workers who have significantly higher exposure levels than the general population."

However, as concerns mount, the Little Hocking Water Association is looking to DuPont to take immediate action to provide their customers with water for consumption that has not been contaminated with C8. Water delivered to Little Hocking Water Association customers has been measured with levels as high as 7.2 parts per billion. No safe level of exposure has been established.

“Our concern was high before - this elevates it,” Griffin said. “We are looking for further immediate action, such as bottled water for cooking and drinking as an interim measure.”

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Editor’s Note: Griffin’s letter and the charted results for C8 and other chemicals can be viewed online .