Bush EPA Advisory on Toxic Chemical CriticizedMay 12, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP It seems that an 11th hour health advisory regarding the toxic chemical known as C8 issued by the former Bush Administration might have downplayed the chemical's dangers.
According to The Charleston Gazette, a study conducted by researchers from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Rutgers University found that the Bush Administration health advisory ignored how very low C8 exposure levels could result in adverse health effects. The study was just published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. According to the Charleston Gazette, the study confirmed earlier assessments in which it was found that the advisory “does not take into account possible long-term exposure from drinking C8-contaminated water.”
C8 is a perflurochemical or PFC and is also known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recommended that humans reduce consumption of water containing in excess of 0.4 parts per billion (ppb), reported the Charleston Gazette. C8 and other PFCs are turning up in humans at low levels around the world, said the Charleston Gazette, which explained that exposure can occur through contaminated drink or food, food packaging, and carpet and furniture stain-proofers. PFCs also appear in shampoo, clothes, upholstery, pesticides, and a wide array of common household and consumer products; C8/PFOA is used to make Teflon pans, Gore-Tex clothes, and to prevent food from sticking to paper packaging.
When heated, PFCs break down into compounds that can be absorbed into food and enter the bloodstream. In 2005, federal investigators found C8/PFOA to be a "likely carcinogen" and called for expanded testing to study its potential to cause liver, breast, testicular, and pancreatic cancers. The following year, the EPA invited all companies involved with C8/PFOA to join a voluntary "stewardship program" to reduce use and emissions of the chemical by 2010 and eliminate it by 2015. Of note, the EPA’s voluntary phase-out does not apply to Chinese companies, which are among the leading manufacturers of food packaging.
Prior studies link PFOS (another PFC) and C8/PFOA to adverse reactions in the livers, immune systems, and reproductive systems of animals, said Discovery in an earlier report. PFOS is present in most people's blood and accumulates over time; C8/PFOA has been found to be present in 98 percent of Americans' blood and 100 percent of newborns’ blood. Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, the chemical industry has long maintained that there is no reason to worry about C8/PFOA in our bloodstreams and regulators have been unable to impose a federal limit for emissions and exposure.
The Charleston Gazette reported that DuPont Co. used C8/PFOA for decades at its Washington Works plant for the manufacture of “Teflon and other nonstick and stain-resistant products.” Recently, DuPont and the EPA revised a settlement that mandates DuPont provide replacement water supplies when drinking water contains in excess of the 0.4 ppb level.
Dupont is very familiar with the harm caused by its toxins. To name one, last summer, following a protracted, 12-year legal battle, two families won confidential payouts from DuPont. The plaintiffs blamed the fungicide, Benlate, developed by DuPont, for their children's serious birth defects—one child born without eyes and with a double cleft palate, eye abnormalities—and deaths.