The Environmental Working Group (EWG; Washington) is challenging a recent assessment by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP; Charleston) of safe levels of ammonium perfluo-rooctanoate (C-8) contamination found near DuPont’s facility at Parkersburg, WV. The assessment concludes that C-8 is safe in drinking water at 150 parts per billion, and that a safe health level for air exposure to C-8 should be set at 1 microgram/cu meter. EWG argues that the DEP’s study is “seriously flawed,” and should not be used as a basis for possible regulation.
DuPont utilizes C-8 as a process aid in the manufacture of Teflon, and says that its handling of the chemical is protective of human health. But state and federal regulators are studying the risks of C-8, and they are considering whether mandatory restrictions are needed (CW, March 27, p. 39). DuPont says samples taken at the plant detect safe C-8 levels, and that its air emissions are “well below” the recommended 1 microgram/cu meter level.
The DEP assessment cannot be trusted as accurate, and West Virginia officials should immediately begin a second review of C-8 risks near the plant, says EWG senior v.p. Richard Wiles. Other studies show that C-8 at low levels may cause developmental and reproductive effects in humans, Wiles says. DEP also found that tumors caused by C-8 in animals are “irrelevant to humans,” contradicting EPA research, he says.
The department defends the assessment. “DEP had 10 toxicologists with over 200 years of combined experience analyzing the potential effects of C-8 on Wood County residents,” it says.