Fluoride Action Network

Ohio: C8 Science Panel checks out elevated cholesterol levels

Source: Marietta Times (Ohio) | October 16th, 2008 | By Pamela Brust
Industry type: Perfluorinated chemicals

Participants in the C8 Health Project with higher levels of the chemical in their blood also had higher cholesterol levels, the C8 Science Panel reported Wednesday.

The panel also said median C8 levels for health project participants averaged 28 parts per billion, compared to U.S. population levels of 5 ppb. No relation was found between C8 levels and type II diabetes.

The findings came from the first C8 Science Panel reports released publicly during a press conference Wednesday.

“We can’t conclude anything yet about a possible link between C8 and disease because we don’t know whether the disease came first or C8 came first,” said C8 Science Panel spokesman Kyle Steenland. “Our charge is to determine if there is a probable link between C8 and any disease. We will be doing that through a series of 11 studies that will take place from now through 2011.

“Some of the studies will provide a piece of the puzzle, but not allow a conclusion, and we won’t make a conclusion until we get the whole picture,” he said.

The independent science panel and separate C8 Health Project were part of a settlement in a class action lawsuit filed against DuPont. Plaintiffs alleged their health had been damaged by the release of C8, a chemical used in the manufacture of Teflon, from DuPont’s Washington Works plant. DuPont admitted no liability in the settlement.

Steenland said C8 levels were higher among males, those currently living in the six affected water districts, those living closer to the plant and DuPont workers.

“There was a delay of a year getting the (health study) information because a bunch of lab work had to be redone, so we’ve only received the data recently (April 2008), and this is our first analysis from them,” Steenland said.

Through the C8 Health Project, medical histories and information as well as blood tests of 69,096 current and former residents of the six water districts were obtained.

The second report released Wednesday deals with the relation between blood C8 levels and cholesterol levels in adults at the time of the C8 Health Project.

“Health project participants with higher levels of C8 tended to have higher levels of cholesterol, with an 11-point increase in total cholesterol between those with lowest C8 levels to those with highest C8 levels,” Steenland said.

A similar increase was seen for C8 sulfonate (C8S) another fluorocarbon found in the blood of the health project participants.

“C8S was not released from the DuPont plant and levels in the community are similar to those across the U.S,” Steenland said.

The third report stated the panel found no relation between C8 blood levels in the study participants and type II diabetes. Steenland said there were 4,000 cases of type II diabetes reported in the health study.

DuPont spokesman Dan Turner, who attended Wednesday’s press conference, said the company supports the work of the science panel.

“I think we need to highlight what Dr. Steenland said, throughout his presentation – They cannot draw conclusions around the results they reported, and secondly, there is more work to be done,” he said. “We believe this report, as well as other planned reports, will add to the growing body of knowledge and understanding around (C8).”

Joe Kiger, a lead plaintiff in the class action lawsuit, said he didn’t know what to make of the results yet.

“I’m still waiting; I’m trying to digest what was said,” he said. “Some of the things I am concerned with is if this information has to go to a peer review (in the medical field) before it goes out to the public, and the time delays that might cause in getting this information released to the public.”

Some Little Hocking Water Association customers contacted Wednesday afternoon expressed continued concern over the effect of C8 on their health, while others said they don’t feel they are at risk.

Arlene Crider, 65, of Little Hocking, said meetings on the subject in Decatur Township drew many of her neighbors.

“People are watching (C8 news), and they are a little bit concerned,” she said.

Jason Greenwalt, 34, said he has lived in Little Hocking all of his life, but has not seen any particular disease being prevalent in the area.

“We check out the reports when they come out, but there’s nothing that people here are wringing their hands over as far as I can tell,” he said. “We use a water filter, but other than that, the water here seems fine.”

In late 2007, DuPont installed a filter to remove C8 from the district’s water. However, while the water coming out of the filter is clear of C8, traces have still been found elsewhere in the system, but at lower levels than previously detected, said Bob Griffin, general manager of the association.

The science panel continues to work with researchers at West Virginia University in the analysis of data from the C8 Health Project. Summaries of the data from the health project can be seen at the university’s C8 Health Project data-hosting Web site at www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/cmed/c8/. More details about the studies and information from these findings are available at the science panel Web site: c8sciencepanel.org.

Patrick Cooley contributed.

Fact Box

C8 blood levels

U.S. population – 5 parts per billion.

C8 Health Project participants – 28 ppb.

Current residents in six water districts – 38 ppb.

Little Hocking Water District residents – 224 ppb.

Lubeck (W.Va.) residents – 70 ppb.

Belpre residents – 35 ppb.

Pomeroy residents – 12 ppb.

Mason County (W.Va.) residents – 12 ppb.

Former water district residents – 18 ppb.

Current DuPont workers – 148 ppb.

Former DuPont workers – 75 ppb.

Males – 34 ppb.

Females – 24 ppb.

Source: C8 Health Project, through which medical histories and information as well as blood tests of 69,096 current and former residents of the six water districts were obtained.

For more information on the C8 Science Panel, its ongoing studies and the results of the first three reports, go to www.c8sciencepanel.org.

For more information on the West Virginia University Health Project data hosting Web site: http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/cmed/c8/