Sustained Outrage

DuPont Co.’s Washington Works Plant south of Parkersburg, W.Va.

A new study by West Virginia University researchers and others has found that children and teens exposed to C8 and related chemicals may be more likely to have elevated levels of total and LDL cholesterol.

The study is to appear in this month’s issue of the peer-reviewed journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.  The authors include WVU researcher Stephanie J. Frisbee and numerous colleagues.

In part, the study represents the peer-reviewed and published version of some results that were previously made public by the C8 Health Project at WVU and later by the C8 Science Panel. But the study provides a more complete and refined look at this data, which was collected by the C8 Health Project as part of the class-action lawsuit settlement between DuPont and thousands of Mid-Ohio Valley residents who drank water polluted with C8 from the company’s Washington Works plant.

Interestingly, among the nearly 12,500 children and teens whose blood was sampled, average C8 (0r PFOA) concentrations were higher than those detected in the general U.S. population — probably because of their exposure from living near the DuPont plant. But, the levels of  PFOS, a related chemical not necessarily related to the plant’s emissions, were similar to those from the general population — an indication perhaps that the children got that exposure somewhere else. Of course, these chemicals are everywhere, having been used in a wide range of consumer products like non-stick skillets, food packaging and non-stain materials like clothing and carpets.

According to a WVU press release describing the new study:

After adjusting for related variables, higher PFOA levels were associated with increased total cholesterol and LDL or “bad” cholesterol, and PFOS was associated with increased total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and HDL or “good” cholesterol. There was no association between either compound and triglyceride levels.

On average, the one-fifth of children and teens with the highest PFOA levels had total cholesterol levels 4.6 milligrams per deciliter higher and LDL cholesterol levels 3.8 milligrams per deciliter higher than the one-fifth with the lowest PFOA levels. In addition, there was an average difference of 8.5 milligrams per deciliter in total cholesterol levels and 5.8 milligrams per deciliter in LDL cholesterol levels between the one-fifth of participants with the highest and lowest PFOS levels.

In the paper, the authors wrote:

The non-linear nature of the observed associations, particularly for PFOA, suggests a possible saturation point in an underlying physiologic mechanism.

PFOA and PFOS specifically, and possibly perfluoroalkyl acids as a general class, appear to be associated with serum lipids, and the association seems to exist at levels of PFOA and PFOS exposure that are in the range characterized by nationally representative studies.