By Callie Lyons, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vapcon, Inc., a Lexington, Ky.-based company, claims it has
a product that will virtually remove C8 from drinking water
through a distillation process. The announcement could be
a breakthrough in the development of technology to clean up
the manufacturing chemical which is key to the production of
Teflon. Du Pont officials, the makers of Teflon, are
continuing their efforts to identify a clean-up system for the
chemical but so far have not found anything.
"I am not the least bit interested in how C8 got in the water," said Tom
Lamb, owner of Vapcon Inc., who demonstrated his product in
"It's in there, and I have a product that takes it out,"
said Lamb, a former 25-year resident of Parkersburg with
family and friends throughout the area. "I want people to have
LifeMist Home Water Systems, which are sold and distributed
by Vapcon, have been on the market for 26 years and are sold
all over the United States and Canada. But only recently Lamb
received scientific laboratory results, he said, that
confirmed the system will reduce C8 to a level which is not
quantifiable or detectable in parts per trillion.
The substance, which is known to scientists as PFOA, has
been used and emitted by the DuPont Washington, W.Va., Works
plant along the Ohio River for nearly 50 years. In that time,
DuPont officials claim they have observed no harmful health
effects for humans. In January 2002 C8 was discovered in the
Little Hocking Water Association's system and subsequently in
other systems as well.
Kris Thayer, a scientist from the Environmental Working
Group, a Washington-based environmental action group, hopes
more people will come forward with enterprising technology
that could contribute to the clean up of C8. But, she is concerned the
price tag of the LifeMist distillation system may be too steep
for the average person.
With raw tap water samples drawn from the Lubeck Public
Service District near the West Virginia plant containing C8 in levels from 526 to 567
parts per trillion, Lamb tested and retested his distillation
system to confirm that it will reduce the presence of C8 to nondetectable levels. To
be sure, he paid for accurate laboratory tests, examining the
water at levels of parts per trillion as opposed to parts per
"C8 is one of the toughest
things to get out of water because of the molecular structure
and the weight of it," Lamb said. "Distillation is the best
way to clean water.
But, Lamb also contends not just any distiller will remove
or reduce C8. LifeMist systems, which
start at $2,495 for a small home unit, are made with the
highest grade of stainless steel and boil water at a much
slower rate than other products. Steam from the heated water
travels through a series of baffles, leaving contaminants
behind. When it cools, the water collects in a stainless steel
reservoir. The hardened contaminants accumulate, necessitating
their removal every two or three weeks. There is no plastic
employed in the distillation or distribution of the purified
"The quality is the same all the time because of the way
the product is made," Lamb said. "There is no way to clean
water the way my product will."
Although he suspected for some time that his distillation
system would remove C8, it took longer than he
could have imagined to prove it. The first laboratory he
employed to perform tests notified him after the fact that he
was not permitted to use their results. But eight months
later, a second laboratory, Chemir of Maryland Heights, Mo.,
produced similar results that he could use.
DuPont scientists have said they know of no method to clean
up the environmentally and biologically persistent chemical,
which has been shown to cause reproductive and developmental
problems in laboratory animals.
On Monday, DuPont spokeswoman Dawn Jackson said she had not
heard of Vapcon and could not comment until some analytical
work had been performed. However, Jackson said DuPont's
efforts to develop cleanup technology were ongoing.
"There is a field trial that showed some promise for
reducing low levels of C8," Jackson said.
With a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigation
into the chemical's toxicity pending and a class-action
lawsuit regarding local water exposure in Wood County Circuit
Court, verifiably safe drinking water is the most immediate
concern for thousands of people whose supplies have been
Last year two companies were caught wrongfully claiming
that their home water filtration systems removed C8. There is no evidence to
suggest that any filtration system would eliminate the
Richard Wiles, senior vice president of the Environmental
Working Group, said DuPont should be looking at this and every
other possible method of taking C8 out of local drinking water
Concerning the validity of Vapcon's claims, Thayer and
Wiles said it seems plausible.
"They don't have a great incentive to lie," Wiles said. "It
looks like they are really driving the detection levels down
C8 wasn't the only chemical
Lamb tested the water for chemicals other than C8. The lab performed an
extensive test, which looked at arsenic, lead, nitrates, and
dozens of other substances, which are commonly found in
drinking water in small amounts.