By Callie Lyons, email@example.com
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's investigation
into the chemical known as C8 is making progress in
cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety
Commission. Next week officials from both agencies will
meet with industry representatives and other interested
parties in Washington, D.C., to work on the terms for
disclosing information which would potentially identify a
comprehensive list of consumer products related to the
substance scientists recognize as PFOA. The composition of
such a list would require DuPont and other manufacturers to
release information they consider confidential for business
"It's all part of the EPA process," said Kathy Forte,
DuPont vice president of public affairs. "A technical group is
looking at confidential business information. Obviously, there
is information which businesses consider confidential and
proprietary to businesses for many reasons."
Forte said the primary reason for maintaining business
confidentiality is to keep information out of the hands of the
"At the same time, we recognize there is information the
EPA will need as a part of its consent process," Forte said.
"We have concerns, obviously, but we believe the EPA process
is the best way to handle this."
Locally, the issue has significance because C8 has been
detected in several public water systems near the Washington,
W.Va., DuPont plant that has used and emitted the substance
through its manufacturing process for 50 years. The discovery
in January 2002 prompted several government investigations
into the possible health risks of the chemical known to
scientists as PFOA.
DuPont officials contend that over five decades of handling
the chemical, they have found no harmful health effects for
humans. However, their claim is being contested in the Wood
County Circuit Court where a class action lawsuit has been
filed by people who have the substance in their drinking water
and fear longterm ill effects.
"The whole idea is the EPA is trying to get industry,
through a voluntary process, to share a lot of information,"
said Ken Giles, spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Giles said the EPA is trying to answer a number of
questions: What products are it in? Does it come out? What are
the health effects? What does industry know about the health
effects? And, what plans do industry have to alter or change
the manufacturing process which includes the substance?
"We don't have the answers yet," Giles said.
But, if the chemical, which is related to thousands of
consumer products such as a non-stick coating on cookware,
does have health effects, Giles said the Consumer Product
Safety Commission would be concerned.
The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based
scientific research organization, petitioned the Consumer
Product Safety Commission in May, asking that warning labels
be placed on non-stick cookware because fumes from heated pans
can kill household birds. Giles said the cooperative
investigation between the EPA and the CPSC is a broader issue,
not limited to Teflon-coated cookware, but also including
other consumer products.
Some people think it would be a good idea to identify the
products related to C8 with a warning label.
"I think it's definitely a good idea for cookware because
it's just awful that people don't know," said Julie
Zickafoose, of Whipple.
As an area naturalist and a mom, Zickafoose is concerned
the harmful effects seen with birds could mean danger for
"Sometimes I wonder why I'm still using it. But it's so
convenient and I'm really careful," Zickafoose said. "You
can't really take any innovation for granted because you can't
tell what the side effects might be over time."