CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Children with more of the toxic chemical C8 in their blood are more likely to have high cholesterol, according to a new scientific study filed Friday in Wood Circuit Court.
The study, conducted by West Virginia University researchers, found higher levels of C8 “were significantly associated with higher cholesterol and LDL, or so-called “bad cholesterol,” according to a summary filed by lawyers for DuPont Co. and Wood County residents.
Lawyers for both sides in a now-settled class-action suit over DuPont’s C8 pollution filed the study in circuit court after it was provided to them by members of a three-person science panel studying the chemical’s effects as part of that legal settlement.
Previously, the C8 Science Panel had issued a report that tied C8 exposure to high cholesterol in adults, and other studies have linked high levels of exposure to increased cholesterol among exposed chemical plant workers.
This latest study on C8 exposure and cholesterol in children was filed in court, but had not been posted on the Science Panel’s Web site or otherwise publicized by the panel, at least as of late Friday afternoon.
C8 is another name for perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. It is one of a family of perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs. The other best-known PFC is PFOS. In West Virginia, DuPont had used C8 since the 1950s at its Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg. C8 is a processing agent used to make Teflon and other nonstick and stain-resistant products.
Around the world, researchers are finding that people have C8 and other PFCs in their blood at low levels. People can be exposed by drinking contaminated water, eating tainted food or through food packaging and stain-proof agents on furniture or carpet.
Evidence is mounting about the chemical’s dangers, but regulators have yet to yet a binding federal limit for emissions or human exposure.
The Science Panel and researchers at WVU are conducting separate, but related, reviews of C8 as part of a $107.6 million settlement of a lawsuit filed by residents who alleged DuPont’s Washington Works plant poisoned their drinking water with C8.
In one effort, the C8 Health Project, residents gave blood and detailed medical histories to try to give researchers a huge database from which to consider C8s impacts. WVU researchers are analyzing that data and have been making some preliminary findings public.
In the other, three experts agreed to by DuPont and lawyers for the residents are trying to determine if C8 is linked to adverse health effects. Their conclusion will be used to decide if DuPont must fund a medical monitoring program for residents who drank contaminated water.
The latest WVU work examined blood samples from nearly 12,500 Mid-Ohio Valley residents under the age of 18 living at some point in water districts where the supply was polluted with C8.
The average C8 found in the blood was 69 parts per billion, compared to the average in the general U.S. population of about 5 parts per billion.
The study summary said that children with the highest levels of C8 had a 20 percent extra risk of high cholesterol, compared to those with the lowest levels of C8 in their blood. Children in the highly exposed category had a 40 percent extra risk of “bad cholesterol,” according to the study summary.
WVU researchers performed this study, but the summary stated that the three Science Panel members “concur with its findings.”