Our Stolen Futurea book by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers


Reuters Health
11 April 2003

Group says DuPont withheld risk of toxic chemical

By Christopher Doering

WASHINGTON (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 on Friday.

The 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 Teflon.

Teflon is a widely available household product used to keep clothing dry or prevent food from sticking to pots and pans.

"They 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."

The 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.

The 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.

The 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.


The 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.

That same year, DuPont reassigned 50 women from the plant to reduce their exposure to the chemical, the Environmental Working Group said.

Residents near the West Virginia plant have filed a class action lawsuit against DuPont.

The 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.

The Environmental Working Group said laboratory studies have linked exposure to perfluorochemicals to cancer, hypothyroidism and brain damage.

In 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.

The 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.

In 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.





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