Processing Magazine

Health screenings for Teflon to start

July 13, 2005
Tens of thousands of Ohio and West Virginia residents could be tested over the next year to determine if their health has been affected by drinking water containing a chemical used to make the nonstick substance Teflon, the Associated Press reports. DuPont Company agreed in February to pay for the screenings to settle a class-action lawsuit. Teflon is one of the company''s most popular products; the substance can be found in everything from cookware and clothing to car parts and flooring. The tests will begin this month for residents who receive their drinking water from six public water districts, or from private wells within the districts, where concentrations of ammonium perfluorooctanoate, also known as PFOA and C8, have been found. The water supplies are near DuPont''s Washington Works plant, along the Ohio River near Parkersburg. About 80,000 residents live in the districts, and it''s hoped at least 60,000 will participate in the screening. Residents will receive $150 to answer a health questionnaire. If they agree to submit a blood sample, they will receive an additional $250. Only residents who received the water for at least a year before December 3, 2004, are eligible. Based on the findings, DuPont could be required to spend another $235 million to monitor the residents'' health. The settlement also called for DuPont to provide the six water utilities with new treatment equipment to reduce the chemical in water supplies at an estimated cost of $10 million. In a separate matter, DuPont has set aside $15 million to settle EPA complaints that the company failed to report information over two decades about the potential environmental and human health risks of the chemical, although no agreement has been reached. In May, the company was served with a subpoena from a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., for documents related to the chemical.