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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Sticky Situation Update

Air Date: Week of

Earlier this month Living on Earth's Jeff Young told us about the health and safety questions surrounding the Teflon chemical known as C8,which contaminated drinking water around a DuPont plant in West Virginia. Now C8 is showing up in water near a DuPont facility in North Carolina and residents want officials to investigate.


CURWOOD: This is Living on Earth, I’m Steve Curwood. Early this month we reported on health and safety concerns about the chemical C8, which is used to make Teflon and other non-stick and stain-resistant products. Thousands of residents near a DuPont C8 facility in West Virginia had their blood tested for the toxin after learning their drinking water had been contaminated for years. Now some North Carolina residents, near another DuPont plant are concerned about their water supply. Living on Earth's Jeff Young has this update.

YOUNG: DuPont’s facility on the Cape Fear River, near Fayetteville, North Carolina, is now the only U.S. plant making C8. The 3M company had supplied the chemical to DuPont until concerns about potential health effects caused them to stop making it. So DuPont started making it in 2002.
Hope Taylor-Guevara, of the group Clean Water for North Carolina, says it wasn’t long before C8 started showing up in nearby monitoring wells.

TAYLOR-GUEVARA: There were releases into groundwater that were recorded within a few months, and we also have documentation of very elevated C8 levels in the blood of workers at the plant.

YOUNG: It was beginning to sound like the situation around DuPont’s Teflon facility in West Virginia, where six water districts were contaminated with C8. Last month, DuPont agreed to a record $16 million payment to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to settle charges that the company knew of the contamination long ago. That’s why Taylor-Guevara wants federal and state regulators to investigate DuPont’s North Carolina plant.

TAYLOR GUEVARA: As the state that is now the sole source of new production of this compound, we have real responsibility to prevent the exposure of the public and of workers until more is known about this substance.

YOUNG: EPA has not yet responded to the request, although the agency is assisting with some water and soil sampling near the site. EPA is also assessing C8’s health risks. A draft report from its advisory board called C8 a likely carcinogen. DuPont issued a written statement saying that no study to date has linked C8 exposure to human disease and that its North Carolina plant complies with reporting requirements.

Meanwhile, some residents near DuPont’s West Virginia facility are still searching for clean water. DuPont had paid for them to use bottled water until tests this month showed it, too, was tainted with trace amounts of C8. For Living on Earth, I’m Jeff Young.

CURWOOD: For more information about Dupont and C8, go to our website, Living On Earth dot org.



LOE piece (1/6/06) on Dupont and C8


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