Beginning in the early 1950s, DuPont used a chemical compound known as ammonium perfluorooctanoate in its manufacturing of Teflon at its Washington Works plant in Wood County, West Virginia. Ammonium perfluorooctanoate is also commonly referred to as PFOA, or simply C-8 in reference to its molecular structure that includes eight (8) carbon (c) atoms.
C-8 was originally manufactured by the 3M Company. 3M Company sold C-8 to DuPont. Although on an annual basis it had been a multimillion dollar product for 3M for decades, 3M voluntarily decided to stop production of C-8 in May 2000. Soon thereafter, DuPont began manufacturing C-8 at its plant located in Fayetteville, North Carolina, but has promised the US EPA that it will phase out all US production by 2015.
In its Teflon manufacturing process, DuPont discharged large quantities of C-8 as waste material into the air and water surrounding its Washington Works plant. Waste containing C-8 was disposed of in DuPont's Dry Run Landfill, in its Letart Landfill, and discharged into the Ohio River where it contaminated two water districts located in West Virginia and four water districts located in Ohio. Numerous private wells in these vicinities also were found to be contaminated with C-8. Large quantities of C8 were also discharged into the atmosphere.
C-8 is a hazardous, toxic, and carcinogenic substance. It has been linked with numerous health effects in both animal and human studies. In 2006, the United States Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board determined that C-8 should be identified as a likely human carcinogen. Since that time, the independent C-8 Science Panel has determined that C8 exposure is linked to testicular and kidney cancer in the impacted communities, along with additional serious human disease. Federal and state regulatory agencies are now beginning to regulate C-8 because of these serious toxicity concerns.
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