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DuPont Teflon chemical C8 found in Ohio stream, bottled water

Jan 24, 2006 |

A stream in Williamstown, Ohio tested positive on Jan. 12 for C8, a DuPont chemical used to make Teflon. DuPont has a plant in Washington, WV, about 18 miles north of Williamstown. The plant is expected to have leaked the C8 chemical, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition, the chemical was detected when Ohio residents living in the southeastern part of the state bought bottled water called Crystal Spring. It is expected that Crystal Spring, based out of Marietta, Ohio, received its water from the effected stream. Customers in the Ohio district reported having C8 levels that were nearly 80 times higher than the usual amount found in drinking water.

To prevent the continued contamination of the drinking water, the Little Hocking Water Association is in the process of installing filters to the water. No more infected water is being given to customers. Instead, water from nearby Culligan County is being given to customers.

According to the EPA, there is no regulated level of C8. However, it is widely known that a generally safe level would be 150 parts per billion.

Immediately following the hazardous news, Gary Matheny, owner of Crystal Springs, tested the water himself. His results concurred with the previous findings, showing increased levels of C8.

As of Jan. 13, three separate tests from two different laboratories have shown that C8 was present in the Crystal Spring drinking bottles at levels between 13and 17 parts per trillion. In the actual well where the water came from, the levels were 3,500 to 7,200 parts per trillion.

“We’ve been using that well for 84 years and we've never had a problem with it until now,” The Marietta Times quoted Matheny as saying.

“We don’t know how it got there at levels this low it may be something as simple as Teflon tape on a fitting but we are exploring every avenue and we are taking the necessary steps to remove it.”

In response to the potentially hazardous findings, DuPont said that increased levels of C8, the chemical that the company uses to produce Teflon, is not a danger to water drinkers. However, despite DuPont’s reluctance to claim responsibility, the company is paying for health screenings for over 80,000 effected residents in southeastern Ohio.

It should also be noted that DuPont has been supplying residents of southeastern Ohio with bottled water because of a lawsuit a few years back over well contamination. Crystal Springs and two other drinking water companies were commissioned by DuPont to give bottles of water to southeastern Ohioans.

Crystal Spring Water has been around since 1922. It is comparatively a small drinking water company, with only 20 employees.

C8, also known as PFOA or ammonium perfluorooctanoate, is used to produce Teflon, a product made by DuPont to be used in various household items including cookware.

The EPA is in the process of classifying C8 as hazardous to humans, but official findings have yet to be released. In the past, C8 has caused cancer to develop in lab rats. The only official word from the EPA is that the agency believes C8 to be “likely” in producing cancer in humans.

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