Sustained Outrage

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials are pushing DuPont Co. to conduct more widespread C8 water testing, based at least in part on data that indicates “elevated levels” of the chemical in the Ohio River as far away from DuPont’s Parkersburg plant as Cincinnati.

That’s what local journalist Callie Lyons reported late last week on her blog:

The EPA is trying to learn how DuPont’s C8, also known as PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid, has made it so far away from Washington Works near Parkersburg, West Virginia. The chemical has been used there for more than fifty years to make Teflon and other stain-resistant, nonstick surfaces and applications – hundreds of applications used in thousands of consumer products.

Cincinnati Water Works has been tracking C8 in the river since 2005 when they detected levels of 100 parts per trillion – a number that exceeds the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection health-based action level of 40 parts per trillion.

Callie cites, among other things, a copy of a March 3 letter from EPA to DuPont in which federal government officials outline a variety of concerns about plans for any future C8 testing by the company.

I’ve been unable to get much about this out of EPA’s spokesman on C8 issues, Dale Kemery. But Callie was kind enough to pass on a copy of the March 3 letter, so I’ve posted it here.

Continue reading…

West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Keri Brown had an update this week on the latest work by the C8 Science Panel, the three-person team researching the chemical’s impacts on human health.

The Science Panel is hoping to take more blood samples from people who previously submitted samples as part of the C8 Health Project,  so they can track over time potential impacts on the immune system, liver, kidneys and endocrine system.

At the same time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — which has raised the possibility of first-ever regulations on C8 and related chemicals — has announced a major workshop on these chemicals, scheduled for early June at EPA’s campus in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

As its name — PFAA Days III — implies, this is the third such workshop sponsored by EPA since 2006.  The announcement of this event, though, comes after media coverage by Sustained Outrage and others about EPA’s private meetings with the makers and users of these chemicals. See previous posts on that here and here.

Study finds high C8 levels among ski wax technicans

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Italy’s Pietro Cottrer collapses on the finish line after winning a silver medal in the men’s cross-country15-kilometre free event at Whistler Olympic Park on Monday, February 15, 2010 at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in Whistler, British Columbia. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Andrew Vaughan)

When you’re enjoying more of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver this week, you might take a moment and think about the folks who are employed as ski wax technicians  …

There’s a new scientific study (Subscription required, but the free abstract is available here)  just out today that shows ski wax technicians have some very high levels of perfluorinated chemicals in their blood. The study by Swedish researchers was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

The bottom line: Ski wax technicians who took part in the study had a median blood level of PFOA or C8 of 112 parts per billion. That’s nearly 45 times greater than the median blood level for the general Swedish population.

Here’s the introduction to the study:

Fluorinated ski waxes are applied to the skis’ soles by using heat of approximately 130-220 degrees C. During this process airborne particles and fumes containing a blend of gaseous organofluorine compounds are emitted. Inhalation of thermal degradation products from fluoropolymers could cause alveolic edma; polymer fume fever, informally called the Teflon flu; severe dyspnea; decreased pulmonary function; and respiratory distress syndrome.

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PFOA exposure linked to thyroid problems

A new study expected out tomorrow has linked exposure to perfluorinated chemicals to thyroid problems.

The U.K. Independent has the scoop on the study, which is to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Their article says:

Scientists who tested the blood of 4,000 US adults between 1996 and 2006 for the presence of the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) found the 25 per cent with the highest levels had twice the incidence of thyroid problems.

Animal studies have shown that the chemical can affect thyroid function, which is essential for maintaining heart rate, regulating body temperature and supporting other bodily functions. Researchers from the University of Exeter, who conducted the study …  said they had demonstrated an association but had not proved causality. “Our results highlight the need for further research,” they said.

Updated: The study is now available online here.  It concludes:

Higher concentrations of serum PFOA and PFOS are associated with current thyroid disease in the US general adult population. More work is needed to establish the mechanisms involved and to exclude confounding and pharmacokinetic explanations.

 

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3M’s chemical plant at Cottage Grove, Minn. 

The last we heard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials had held a couple of days of closed-door meetings with folks from DuPont Co., listening to DuPont’s pitch against tougher regulation of perfluorinated chemicals like PFOA (C8) and PFOS.

Now, it turns out that those meetings, held in October at EPA headquarters in Washington, were preceded by a trip to Minnesota by a herd of agency staff who met there with another PFC company, 3M Corp.

Lawyers for residents of Minnesota, New Jersey and West Virginia who are living with PFC pollution in their communities learned of this junket to 3M headquarters when they obtained these documents through a Freedom of Information Act request.

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PFOA update: EPA moves to set stage for regulations

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Word just in today that a federal appeals court has declined to consider DuPont Co.’s appeal of a district judge’s decision that allowed New Jersey residents to pursue claims of private nuisance and strict liability as class-action suits against the chemical giant.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the company’s request that it overturn the earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb. residents are suing DuPont over contamination of their drinking water with ammonium perfluorooctanoate, or PFOA, also known as C8.

But the bigger C8  news today comes from Washington, D.C., where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its “action plans” for dealing with the growing concerns over four classes of chemicals, including perfluorinated chemicals such as PFOA. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson had promised these action plans back in late September, when she announced her agency was stepping up efforts to address the dangers of toxic chemicals and seeking to reform the Toxic Substances and Control Act.

EPA said it “plans to consider initiating rulemaking” under TSCA section 6, which it said “provides authority for EPA to ban or restrict the manufacture (including import), processing and use of these chemicals.

But it appears no such proposals will be forthcoming from EPA until 2012. A summary of EPA’s action plan on perfluorinated chemicals  is available here and the entire document here. The action plan’s conclusion:

To date, significant adverse effects have not been found in general human population; however, significant adverse effects have been identified in laboratory animals and wildlife. Given the long half-life of these chemicals in humans (years), it can reasonably be anticipated that continued exposure could increase body burdens to levels that would result in adverse outcomes. Consequently, EPA intends to propose actions in 2012 under TSCA to address the potential risks from long-chain PFCs.

DuPont sued again over PFOA pollution

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Another lawsuit has been filed against DuPont Co. over PFOA contamination of water supplies near the company’s Washington Works plant, this one by the Little Hocking Water Association.

I’ve posted a copy of the latest complaint, filed in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, here.  There was previous media coverage from Callie Lyons’ blog, Huntington News.net, and the Marietta Times.

The Little Hocking Water Association provides drinking water to about 12,000 people in Washington and Athens counties in Ohio, across the river from Parkersburg, W.Va., and the Washington Works plant.

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EPA to test Alabama residents for PFOA

Sustained Outrage readers who are following issues surrounding PFOA, or C8, will be interested in a story out today in several media outlets in Alabama.

The Decatur Daily reports that federal Environmental Protection Agency officials plan to test about 200 area residents to determine the levels of PFOA and related chemicals in their blood.

EPA officials apparently announced the plan during a meeting Tuesday night in Moulton, Ala., in an area where sewage sludge contaminated with the chemicals was dumped on farmland. EPA has been investigating after learning that a local C8-maker, Daikin America, had discharged process wastewater into the area’s municipal sewage treatment plan. Sludge from the plant — apparently contaminated with C8 — was applied to local farmland used for both crops and cattle grazing.

The Decatur Daily story also mentions that EPA is planning to issue a new health advisory for PFOA, aimed at addressing long-term health risks from drinking contaminated water — something that the last-minute Bush administration advisory did not address.

A local television station, WAAY-TV, also had coverage of the EPA meeting.

DuPont pushing for weaker limits on PFOA

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Updated, 1:24 p.m. Tuesday: 

Inside EPA has added this link which allows non-subscribers to read the story.

Interesting news out today from Inside EPA (subscription required), which is reporting that DuPont Co.  is leading a new push by industry to weaken a water pollution limit on the toxic chemical PFOA and other perfluorinated chemicals.

Officials from DuPont, 3M and other PFC companies met behind closed doors last month with  the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make their pitch. According to the story, by reporter Maria Hegstad, the industry proposal could weaken drinking water limits on PFOA — taking them from the 0.4 parts per billion contained in an EPA health advisory to 1.3 parts per billion in a formal drinking water standard.

The story says:

Industry scientists are urging EPA’s water office to alter its method for assessing the risks posed by perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) when the office sets drinking water cleanup standards for widespread persistent pollutants — a move that would result in weaker limits than provisional EPA standards and even stricter New Jersey standards set when EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was the state’s environmental commissioner.

PFOA is another name for ammonium perfluorooctanoate, also known as C8. DuPont Co. has used the chemical since the 1950s at its Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg. C8 is a processing agent used to make Teflon and other nonstick products, oil-resistant paper packaging and stain-resistant textiles.

Around the world, researchers are finding that people have PFOA and other PFCs, in their blood at low levels. Evidence is mounting about the chemical’s dangerous effects, but regulators have yet to set a binding federal limit for emissions or human exposure.

In September, the Obama administration EPA listed PFOA and another PFC, PFOS, among the chemicals it might set new water quality limits on.  And that same month, PFCs were among the chemicals EPA said it would “Existing Chemical Action Plans” for under a project to reform regulation of toxic chemicals in the U.S.

Continue reading…

PFOA linked to ADHD and hormone disruption in kids

On the heels on yesterday’s major new study about the possible connection between the toxic chemical C8 and increased cholesterol levels, this morning I learned of two more studies that link C8 to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and to hormone disruption in kids.

I don’t believe either study has been “published” yet in a peer-reviewed journal, but both papers were presented in late August at the annual meeting of the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology in Dublin, Ireland.

This paper, by Kate Hoffman and others at the Boston University School of Public Health,  found an increased risk of ADHD in kids who had more PFOA in their blood. This study used blood sample data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which collects the data from the general U.S. population.

And this one, by Susan M. Pinney of the University of Cincinnati and others, found a relationship between PFOA and breast growth in girls and young women, an indication that PFOA “acts as an endocrine disruptor.”  This study used data from the NIH Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Centers.