By Tom Hrach, firstname.lastname@example.org
An environmental action group is accusing DuPont of failing
to reveal information to the government that shows a chemical
used at the company's Washington, W.Va., Works plant caused
birth defects in children born to women who work at the plant.
The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.,-based
organization, on Friday issued a letter to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency seeking an investigation into
charges DuPont violated the law by failing to report a study
the group says shows the chemical caused birth defects.
The chemical, which has a trade name of C8, is used at the
Washington Works plant across the Ohio River from western Washington County.
"They knew that (C8) was in one baby's blood and caused
birth defects, yet failed to report it. That is a clear
violation of federal law," said Richard Wiles, senior vice
president of the group.
DuPont responded Friday by issuing a statement saying the
group inaccurately represented the issue, and the company
repeated its statement that the chemical has been use for 50
years with no known adverse human health affects.
The Friday allegation from the environmental group is the
latest in the issue of whether C8 is harmful. The issue
surfaced in public in the summer of 2001 when citizens of
Lubeck, W.Va., filed a class- action suit against DuPont,
saying the chemical found in its water system was harming
Further investigations showed the chemical was found in
other area water systems including the Little Hocking system
and in the air.
The environmental group has been following the issue, and
it has completed its own assessment of the chemical. The group
determined that the chemical is harmful to human health, and
that it is much more prevalent than anyone ever suspected.
The environmental group claims one of the documents that is
part of the class action lawsuit shows that DuPont was
concerned enough about the chemical in 1981 to monitor eight
pregnant women who worked at the plant.
According to the environmental group, seven of those women
gave birth, and two of those children had a birth defect. One
of those children was found to have C8 in its blood. A
document that seems to confirm those findings is posted on the
group's Web site.
DuPont, in a statement from its headquarters in Delaware,
disputed the allegation.
"The information was not part of any study evaluating
employee exposure or human health effects related to (C8),"
said the statement from the company. "Although the information
records one confirmed birth defect, there is no indication it
was caused by exposure to (C8)."
DuPont says that in 1981 the 3M company, which made the
chemical, showed the company a preliminary study indicating C8
may cause birth defects in laboratory animals. DuPont then
removed women of child-bearing age from areas of the plant
until more tests, and those new tests showed C8 did not cause
The women were then allowed to return in March of 1982, to
the area of the plant where C8 is present.
As for the allegation that DuPont broke the law by not
reporting its findings to the U.S. EPA, the company says the
law requires it to be reported if there is a substantial risk
to health. DuPont says that the concern did not meet that
There has been no response on the allegation from the U.S.
EPA. The U.S. EPA is expected to announce on Monday the
results of its risk assessment report about the toxicity of
the chemical. At the same time, the U.S. EPA is expected to
announce the next step in the process and answer the group's
report as well.