11 April 2003
says DuPont withheld risk of toxic chemical
(Reuters) - DuPont Co., the nation's second-largest chemical company,
withheld from the government an internal study linking a toxic chemical
in Teflon to birth defects in some children, an advocacy group charged
Environmental Working Group claimed that DuPont violated federal
law by failing to turn over a document in 1981 showing the risks
of perfluorooctanoic acid, or C8, a chemical used to manufacture
is a widely available household product used to keep clothing dry
or prevent food from sticking to pots and pans.
obviously had no intention of ever turning this over to the EPA,"
said Richard Wiles, a vice president of the advocacy group. "This
is very damning evidence. It's not surprising to us that they withheld
it, and who knows what else they've withheld."
group asked the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate and
determine if the company broke federal law by failing to immediately
disclose the health impacts of the chemical.
EPA did not return calls seeking comment. A spokesman with Wilmington,
Del.-based DuPont said the company was reviewing the Environmental
Working Group's report and had no immediate comment.
group cited a 1981 internal study by DuPont that measured the blood
levels of seven women who worked at the company's Teflon plant in
West Virginia. All had detectable levels of the chemical in their
bodies, according to the document.
DuPont study also said one woman gave birth to a child with an eye
and tear duct defect, and another employee bore a child with a nostril
and eye defect.
same year, DuPont reassigned 50 women from the plant to reduce their
exposure to the chemical, the Environmental Working Group said.
near the West Virginia plant have filed a class action lawsuit against
Teflon chemical, C8, is part of a broader family called perfluorochemicals.
Tests have shown that C8 and similar chemicals can cause liver damage
and reproductive problems in rats, according to scientists.
Environmental Working Group said laboratory studies have linked
exposure to perfluorochemicals to cancer, hypothyroidism and brain
2000, 3M Corp. pulled stain-repellent Scotchgard from the market
after the EPA expressed concern that a sister chemical to C8 posed
serious health risks. 3M has since stopped making all perfluorochemicals.
EPA last September began a priority review of C8 under the Toxic
Chemicals Control Act, which can be used to ban chemicals that can
lead to health problems or defects.
a draft copy of a report released last month, the EPA found that
C8 accumulates in the blood system and has toxic chemicals that
pose a risk for childbearing women. The agency urged further study
of the chemical's impact on humans.