Sustained Outrage

National health study sought on fluorinated chemicals



While the folks at DowDuPont were celebrating the successful completion of their mega-merger, there has been another interesting and important development in the long saga of C8 and other fluorinated chemicals.

Earlier this week, a collection of advocates — a doctor, a firefighter and a lawyer — urged the federal government to launch a new, comprehensive national health studies and testing for people exposed to these chemicals in their drinking water or in their work as emergency responders. They sent letters to the Centers for Disease Control and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to call for the study (see here and here) of the chemicals, known collectively as PFAS.

Among those calling for the study was Dr. Paul Brooks, who led the groundbreaking C8 Health Project in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Brooks said:

In order to protect the public health, it is critically important for ATSDR to move forward as soon as possible with work to assess the health impacts of this ever-expanding mix of PFAS chemicals in drinking water across our country, and I hope to have the opportunity to work with the agency to help shape such a national program, using our earlier C8 Health Project work on PFOA as a model.

Jeffrey Hermes, a prostate cancer survivor and firefighter/paramedic in Northern Kentucky, called on ATSDR to conduct a nationwide study of the thousands of firefighters and other emergency responders who were exposed to PFAS materials from firefighting foams and equipment:

My brothers and sisters in our country’s firefighting and emergency response community, particularly those of us now battling or having survived cancer, deserve to know whether the equipment we relied upon every day — the firefighting foams and our protective clothing and gear — actually exposed us to unsafe levels of these toxic PFAS chemicals or increased our risk of contracting a serious illness or disease.

Rob Bilott, a lawyer for Brooks and Hermes, sent the federal government the letters and notified the agencies that they could be subject to a citizen suit if the issue is not addressed:

ATSDR is uniquely empowered under federal law to pursue these national PFAS health studies and testing, and may be one of the only entities that have the ability to secure the funding necessary to get this important work accomplished, regardless of who is responsible.