Sustained Outrage

PARKERSBURG,  W.Va. — On the heels of the West Virginia University study earlier this month that found children and teens exposed to C8 are more likely to have high cholesterol, the C8 Science Panel today is releasing its latest findings: A report that compares C8 exposure data to the age at which boys and girls experience puberty.

The three-member panel is studying the potential impacts of C8 (also known as PFOA) and the related chemical PFOS on residents who live near DuPont’s Washington Works Plant in Wood county, south of Parkersburg.

In general, the panel found that PFOS exposure reduced the odds of boys having reached puberty. Boys with higher exposure to PFOS appeared to have reached puberty later than those with lower exposure.

Among girls, exposure to both PFOA and PFOS appears to be related to reduced odds of having reached puberty. Girls with the highest exposures to both chemicals reached puberty later than those with lower exposures.

Today’s press conference at the Blennerhassett Hotel is the first time that Parkersburg-area residents are hearing about this from the Science Panel.

But, panel leader Tony Fletcher of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine gave fellow scientists a sneak preview of it during a conference in mid-September.  Fletcher was also scheduled to present a paper on the subject at another scientific conference — this one in Korea in late August — but I’m told the necessary analysis was not completed in time for that event.

We’ve reported before about a University of Cincinnati study by Susan Pinney and others that found a relationship between PFOA and breast growth in girls and young women, an indication that PFOA “acts as an endocrine disruptor.” In essence, this study found an earlier onset of puberty — measured in the study by breast maturation — in girls exposed to PFOA.

A more recent study, released two weeks ago and published in the journal Environment International, reported no impact from PFOS exposure on puberty age in young girls, as measured by the onset of the menstrual cycle. This study examined in utero exposures to girl offspring and measured those against the onset of menstrual cycles, or “menarche”  in those girls.

But study authors from Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control cautioned that “there is a biological plausibility for such an association” —

Exposures during pregnancy are extremely relevant to pubertal development, since this represents the period of organ and brain development, including the brain, endocrine system and reproductive tract.

They also warned:

… Due to a relatively small sample size, the study may have been underpowered to detect an association between gestational PFC exposure and age at menarche.

We’ll have more on this in tomorrow’s Gazette.

UPDATED: Here’s a link to the Science Panel’s new report.