Probable link between perfluorooctanoic acid, used by DuPont to make fluoro-polymers, and high cholesterol
The long running saga of DuPont and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), often called simply C8, has passed an important milestone with the delivery of the final report from an independent panel of experts tasked with determining its health effects. The panel said that there was a probable link with high cholesterol, but none with: high blood pressure; kidney, heart or liver disease; osteoarthritis or Parkinson’s disease. In previous reports, the panel has identified probable links between PFOA and kidney cancer, testicular cancer and pre-eclampsia.
In 2001, people living near the Washington Works site in West Virginia, US, sued DuPont in reference to PFOA contamination of drinking water. The case was settled in 2005, with DuPont agreeing to pay $107 million (£67 million) in compensation and to set up an independent expert panel to investigate potential health effects.
Under the terms of the settlement, the conclusions of the panel now expose DuPont to up to $235 million in additional payments to fund monitoring programmes to screen residents for early signs of disease.
DuPont has used PFOA to produce fluoropolymers since the middle of the 20th century. The company is working towards phasing out PFOA, its precursors and ‘related higher homologue chemicals’ from its emissions and products by 2015.
Commenting on the latest report, it said in a statement: ‘DuPont has reduced total C8 emissions by more than 99% at Washington Works and by more than 98% in our global manufacturing operations since 2000. We also have developed and commercialised new technologies to make our products without using C8.’
‘Recently, however, plaintiff attorneys began advertising for clients to now sue DuPont again alleging that C8 actually caused personal injury. Lawsuits have already been filed. Lawsuits such as these ignore family history and lifestyle choices as leading causes of health issues and disease in specific individuals. DuPont will vigorously defend against any and all such lawsuits not based upon valid science.’