An independent four-year study on the effects of C8 on Little Hocking Water Association Service District customers is set to begin this month.
About 400 people will be asked in the following weeks to participate in the study by answering surveys and providing samples of blood and/or breast milk. Mailings are going out as early as today soliciting participants for the study.
The main purpose of the study is to measure the levels of C8 in the bloodstream of a selected sample of residents who live in the Little Hocking Water Association District and if those levels are posing any health risks.
Randomly selected customers will be notified by mail from the University of Pennsylvania, one of the groups conducting the study. If the residents qualify and elect to participate in the study, testing could begin by the end of this month, said Dave Freeman, Decatur Community Association trustee.
“We want people to be aware that these are being mailed and to be on the lookout for them,” Freeman said.
Concern about C8 in the area has been high since a 2001 class-action suit filed in West Virginia alleged DuPont knowingly allowed a chemical with the trade name of C8, a component used during the production of Teflon, to be discharged into local water supplies from its Washington Works plant near Parkersburg.
The four-year study starting this week is being funded by an $840,000 grant from the Environmental Justice Program of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences through the collaboration of the Decatur Community Association, The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Occupational Medicine Program of the HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital.
“There is no funding from any industry or legal group,” Freeman said. “This is a completely independent study that is unlike anything else going on.”
DuPont recently began an internal investigation into the health of its employees and the levels of C8 in their bloodstreams.
Although the study is not complete, DuPont officials maintain there is no evidence C8 poses a threat to humans.
Doctors hired on behalf of the class-action suit filed against DuPont conducted a test of their own earlier this year.
Although the complete results were not released, one of the doctors involved with the study said the chemical led to an increased risk of cancer.
That study compared internal data on cancer rates among plant workers at the Washington Works plant and 599 residents living in the area of the plant. The citizens were recruited through radio and television advertising.
DuPont officials questioned the scientific validity of the study.
Freeman said the study being conducted now will hopefully give some definitive answers as to whether C8 poses any health risks. Also the study hopes to determine the main sources of exposure, which could be by air, water, working with C8 – or some other way.
“Of all the studies on C8, none will compare to what this is attempting to analyze,” Freeman said.
Little Hocking resident Dana Gill, 74, said he would participate in the study.
“I’m sure I would,” Gill said. “I’m concerned about this. We’ve been using this water for a long time. We’re all concerned.”
Freeman said initial results could become available sometime this fall.