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County citizens to participate in C8 hearing

By Callie Lyons, clyons@mariettatimes.com

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducts a public meeting in Washington Friday - the next step in evaluating the toxicity of a manufacturing chemical known as C8 - many Washington County residents will participate.

The citizens will join some of the researchers, scientists and industry experts participating in the process and offering ideas as to how they would like the substance to be handled in the future.

The chemical, which is a key ingredient in the making of Teflon, has been used and released into the air and water by the DuPont plant in nearby Washington, W.Va., for nearly 50 years. But, some county residents became aware of the chemical, known to scientists as PFOA, only when it was detected in their drinking water in January 2002.

Many area citizens have commented on the issue to The Marietta Times.

"Could there be other unregulated chemicals in our water?" asked Kim McMichael of Barlow Township 29, a customer of the Little Hocking Water Association.

McMichael said he is disturbed because citizens who had the chemical in their drinking water were not informed about the contamination until it became the subject of a class action lawsuit filed against DuPont in Wood County Circuit Court.

DuPont maintains the chemical has displayed no hazardous effects for humans over decades of use.

However, the EPA has been investigating the toxicity of C8 with regard to humans because it causes reproductive and developmental problems in laboratory animals. The only conclusion drawn by the agency so far is that "considerable scientific uncertainty remains regarding potential risks."

The objective of Friday's public meeting is to develop enforceable consent agreements, which could lead to more specific guidelines regarding the future management and testing of the manufacturing chemical.

Carolyn Richards, who lives on Ohio 550 near Barlow and Bartlett, may have been exposed to the chemical all her life by the water she drinks.

"I'm very unhappy with the situation," Richards said. "The EPA has let it go too long without responding. I'm buying water to drink and cook with, yet I'm still paying a water bill."

Richards said she began purchasing bottled water as soon as she found out C8 was in her drinking water supply. She is too afraid of the potential hazards of the manufacturing chemical to continue to consume the water supplied by her local distribution system, which has been shown to contain about 2 parts per billion of C8.

"I think DuPont should dig new wells and provide a fresh water source that would be safe for Little Hocking water customers," Richards said. "This is a small farming community, and this all stems back to the company having a lot of money."

Cindy Bosner, of Marietta, had Little Hocking water from 1996 until 2001. She is concerned about whether the chemical might have affected her in that time.

"I would like to know for sure," Bosner said. "It really sounds scary. I want to be tested."

Bosner plans to participate in court-ordered blood testing provided the West Virginia Supreme Court upholds Judge George Hill's ruling for DuPont to supply the tests to individuals whose water supply has been significantly impacted.

Jennifer Whipkey of 619 Tenth St., Marietta, is so alarmed over the chemical contamination that she wrote a letter to the EPA outlining her concerns.

"Are government health experts sure that eight glasses of C8 enhanced water a day is a good recommendation?" Whipkey asked. "Just because C8 is non-regulated doesn't make it safe."

Like other people who are concerned about the issue, Whipkey wants straightforward answers from the EPA.

"Since not everybody can afford a computer, newspaper, or TV, maybe after the true facts are organized, the U.S. EPA could send all Mid Ohio Valley citizens a full no-nonsense report about the dangers of the C8 chemical."


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