DuPont Lawsuit Plaintiffs Eligible for Monitoring After Study Links Teflon Chemical To Cancer

Plaintiffs in a DuPont lawsuit are eligible for monitoring after a study linked a chemical used in Teflon with cancer.

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), very commonly known as Teflon, is a DuPont product. C8 is a perflurochemical or PFC and is also known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA. PFOA is an ammonium salt used in the making of Teflon (PFTE).

The plaintiffs—residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley—are now eligible to be part of medical monitoring programs. This, following the C8 Science Panel’s conclusion that likely links exist between C8 exposure, used by a DuPont plant in West Virginia, and testicular and kidney cancers, according to residents attorneys, said Product Design & Development (PDDNet).

The three-member C8 Panel was formed in 2005 as part of the class-action settlement and has reviewed data from about 70,000 residents, interviewing 28,000 residents and 4,000 workers from 2009 to 2011 concerning their medical histories. Of these, over 3,600 reported being diagnosed with some type of cancer. Validation was not always obtained—if medical record review consent was not received or the diagnosis could not be confirmed. “We didn’t include people simply because they told us they had cancer,” panel member Dr. Kyle Steenland told PDDNet. “We had to back it up with official records, and that took time and great attention to detail.”

The C8 Science Panel released a study on reproduction issues that indicated some pregnant women exposed to C8 suffered from high blood pressure. A prior Panel report found a “small but clearly present” link between C8 and preeclampsia, said PDDNet, noting that more comprehensive findings are due this July.

“We are pleased that the community now has some definitive answers to their concerns about whether they have been put at risk for serious adverse health effects because of their exposure to (C8) in their drinking water,” said an attorney for the plaintiffs, wrote PDDNet. DuPont will likely spend about $235 million on the monitoring programs that will better enable detection of C8-linked diseases among the residents. The panel was recently selected to determine appropriate monitoring activities, said PDDNet.

The residents, who are also members of the class-action settlement, are now free to pursue personal injury or wrongful death claims against DuPont concerning diseases the C8 Science Panel found to have links to C8, said PDDNet. Meanwhile, DuPont has spent over $20 million to treat water supplies as part of the settlement; these recent findings help ensure DuPont will continue to fund water treatment activities. DuPont uses C8 at its Washington Works plant and said it plans on stopping manufacture and use of C8 by 2015, noted PDDNet.

As we’ve written, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended that humans reduce consumption of water containing in excess of 0.4 parts per billion (ppb) of C8. C8 and other PFCs are turning up in humans at low levels around the world and are used to make Teflon pans, Gore-Tex clothes, and to prevent food from sticking to paper packaging. When heated, the chemical breaks down into compounds that can be absorbed into food and enter the bloodstream.

In 2005, federal investigators found C8 to be a “likely carcinogen” and called for expanded testing to study its potential to cause liver, breast, testicular, and pancreatic cancers.

Prior studies link PFOS (another PFC) and C8 to adverse reactions in the livers, immune systems, and reproductive systems of animals; C8 has been found to be present in 98% of Americans’ blood and 100% of newborns’ blood. Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, the chemical industry has long maintained that there is no reason to worry about C8 in our bloodstreams and regulators have been unable to impose a federal limit for emissions and exposure.

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