DuPont Co. has found high levels of the toxic chemical C8 in the blood of workers at a new Teflon plant in China, despite company promises to greatly reduce exposures and emissions.
Less than a year after the plant began operations, workers already have an average concentration of C8 in their blood similar to — or greater than — found in previous studies of U.S. plant workers.
“The increase in the blood levels is just staggering,” said Richard Wiles, director of the Environmental Working Group, who monitors C8 issues. “It raises a lot of concerns.”
Workers tested in May at DuPont’s plant in Changshu, China, had an average blood concentration of about 2,250 parts per billion of ammonium perfluorooctanoate, or PFOA. That compares to an average of just less than 50 parts per billion in May 2007, before the plant was operational.
The most recent figures show average C8 blood levels ranging from 60 to 1,600 parts per billion at DuPont plants in Deepwater, N.J., and Parkersburg, W.Va.
And, the Chinese numbers are much higher than previously reported average C8 blood concentrations among DuPont workers of 500 to 800 parts per billion and among some workers at 3M Corp. C8 facilities of 2,200 parts per billion.
In August, DuPont reported the new Chinese data to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as required under federal toxic chemical control laws.
“Although the reported blood levels of workers at our Changshu site are well within the range of occupational exposure to PFOA, we clearly are not satisfied with the results,” company spokesman Dan Turner said in a prepared statement.
DuPont has used C8 since the 1950s at its Washington Works plant. The chemical is a processing agent used to make Teflon and other nonstick products, oil-resistant paper packaging and stain-resistant textiles.