How Green is DuPont's Alternative?
Credibility Gap: Toxic Chemicals in Food Packaging: DuPont Press Quotes
In public statements, press releases, and on its website, DuPont continuously reiterated the same statement that “there are no human health effects known to be caused by PFOA.” (DuPont 2007a, 2008a). DuPont’s persistence in holding on to these statements is especially disingenuous in light of the extensive body of scientific literature that demonstrates toxicity of PFOA and other PFCs both in humans and in all other mammals tested to date. However, all of these findings have been hushed up, disregarded or minimized by DuPont for years.
DuPont has repeatedly said there is no evidence that PFOA causes adverse health effects and that data recently generated by the company will show that the chemical has a higher margin of safety than was determined in EPA's draft assessment.
"One reason is that C-8 persists in the environment for a long time; blood samples from around the country have found it in measurable quantities in more than 80 percent of the population. Some 3M tests showed toxicity in rats; DuPont dismisses those tests as not applicable to humans… DuPont apparently is too dependent on C-8 for Teflon manufacture to phase it out quickly, so its Web site explains, "There is no evidence or data that demonstrates PFOA causes adverse human health effects" at low levels of exposure."
"DuPont defends its actions in not disclosing the test results because it said it "acted with the absolute confidence that the low or nondetectable levels of C8 found in the Little Hocking water samples in the mid-1980s posed no risk to the health of Little Hocking residents or our own employees in the area."
"By 1991, DuPont had information that C-8 was in the water supplies, according to company documents. But the EPA said DuPont did not inform federal regulators. DuPont asserts that there is no legal basis for the EPA's allegations. The company contends that it has fully complied with statutory reporting requirements and disputes any association between C-8 and harmful effects on human health or the environment."
DuPont General Counsel Stacey J. Mobley said the company would "vigorously defend our position" that no laws were broken and that the chemical was safe. "The evidence from over 50 years of experience and extensive scientific studies supports our conclusion that PFOA does not harm human health or the environment," Mobley said.""
"DuPont is contesting the accusations, and insists that neither PFOA nor Teflon poses risks to humans. ''The evidence from over 50 years of experience and extensive scientific studies supports our conclusion that PFOA does not harm human health or the environment,'' said Stacey J. Mobley, general counsel of DuPont, in a statement responding to the E.P.A. ruling."
The company (DuPont) says it has broken no laws and has sharply reduced emissions of PFOA. And studies on plant workers have shown PFOA to be safe, said Don Duncan, president of the Society of the Plastics Industry, and industry group. "It's not as if we've got people dropping in the streets out there," he said.
In a study awaiting publication, DuPont scientists say they find no risk associated with the everyday use of coated clothing, carpets and cookware, among other products. "We can say unequivocally that those articles are safe," said Robert C. Buck, a Ph.D chemists and senior research scientist with the company.
Although to date, no human health effects are known to be caused by PFOA, the company recognizes that the presence of PFOA in human blood raises questions that should be addressed," the company (Dupont) said in a statement. Dupont has said that 50 years of use and study support its conclusion that the chemical poses no danger to people.
"DuPont remains confident that based on over 50 years of use and experience with PFOA there is no evidence to indicate that it harms human health or the environment," [stated] company spokesman R. Clifton Webb.
DuPont documents, though, show company officials were worried the public would learn the PFOA had contaminated local water supplies... "Biggest potential downside: plant contamination issues surface, case becomes class action," DuPont attorney concluded in a March 2000 e-mail.
"Based on an evaluation of human health and toxicology studies, DuPont believes that the weight of evidence suggests that PFOA exposure does not cause cancer in humans and does not pose a health risk to the general public," DuPont spokesman R. Clifton Webb said. "To date, no human health effects are known to be caused by PFOA, even in workers who have significantly higher exposure levels than the general population."
The information demonstrating that PFOA moves across the placenta "should have been reported immediately to EPA," Nakayama says. DuPont also allegedly failed to report the results of blood tests, done at the company's request, of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit who live near the West Virginia plant. Those people drank water drawn from wells near the plant and had blood levels of PFOA that were significantly higher than that of the U.S. population. Other data DuPont allegedly did not turn over to EPA as promptly as required by law include three studies showing that an unidentified perfluorochemical was "significantly lethal" when inhaled by laboratory rats.
DuPont, which manufactures Teflon and has used the chemical for more than 50 years, says there is no evidence that PFOA is harmful to humans. "The chemical does have an effect on animals that are fed high doses of it. But animals respond differently to PFOA than people, and there is no evidence that there are any health effects in people," said David Boothe, a DuPont manager.
"We think the weight of evidence and science says, look, the things that are happening in rats don't happen in people," Boothe said. He also said the EPA has ignored company studies that did not find health problems in workers "exposed to thousands of times higher levels than in the general population." "So DuPont's position on this is, to date, there are no known health effects from exposure to PFOA," Boothe said."
DuPont Spokesman David Booth testified PFOA is "essentially a high-tech detergent" that has been used for 50 years in manufacturing plastic and "as there are no known health effects from PFOA.""
"Dan Turner, a spokesman for DuPont, which uses PFOA in the production of Teflon, said the company is convinced its products pose no threat to human health. "DuPont believes and maintains that consumer products sold with trace levels of PFOA are safe for their intended use," he said. He added that he was familiar with the Johns Hopkins research. "To date, there are no known human health effects known to be caused by PFOA," he said."
One of the studies, carried out by researchers at the blue-chip Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, found the chemical in every single one of the 299 umbilical cords analyzed, suggesting that every baby is born already contaminated by it. Similar levels have been found in babies in Europe and Japan. It also found that the babies whose cords had the highest concentrations of PFOA were born lighter, thinner and with smaller head circumferences than others. The second study - carried out in the US and Denmark, with babies drawn from the Danish National Birth Cohort - came up with similar findings for birth weight, the only measurement it made. "DuPont has long insisted that "there are no human health effects known to be caused by PFOA", and now adds: "Our position is that the studies have not changed our position."
Dupont statements on its website (2007)
DuPont Position on PFOA: "To date, there are no human health effects known to be caused by PFOA. Based on health and toxicological studies conducted by DuPont and other researchers, DuPont believes the weight of evidence indicates that PFOA exposure does not pose a health risk to the general public" (DuPont 2007a).
PFOA Facts: "Occupational exposure to PFOA has been associated with small increases in some lipids (e.g. cholesterol). It is not known whether these are causal associations. These associations were not observed in a community study. Based on health and toxicological studies, DuPont believes the weight of evidence indicates that PFOA exposure does not pose a health risk to the general public. To date, there are no human health effects known to be caused by PFOA, although study of the chemical continues" (DuPont 2007b).
PFOA - Safety: "PFOA has been used safely by DuPont and others for more than 50 years with no known human health effects to date" (DuPont 2007b).
"Still, DuPont -- which paid a heavy fine to the EPA for failing to report internal studies on the health risks of PFOA and settled a lawsuit that alleged PFOA-contaminated drinking water near a DuPont plant -- insists that PFOA does not pose a health risk to the general public."
"DuPont has stated that there is no evidence of health threats from PFOA, but a federal advisory panel recommended classifying it as a probable carcinogen."
Dupont website and press releases (2008)
"DuPont believes the weight of evidence indicates that PFOA exposure does not pose a health risk to the general public. To date, there are no human health effects known to be caused by PFOA" (DuPont 2008a, 2008b).
"Based on health and toxicological studies, DuPont believes the weight of evidence indicates that PFOA exposure does not pose a health risk to the general public. To date, there are no human health effects known to be caused by PFOA, although study of the chemical continues" (DuPont 2008c).
Notably, the same stance is adopted by other fluorochemical manufacturers:
3M website, 2008
"In more than 25 years of medical surveillance we have observed no adverse health effects in our employees resulting from their exposure to PFOS or PFOA. This is very important since the level of exposure in the general population is much lower than that of production employees who worked directly with these materials." "The extensive research to date shows no adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to PFOS or PFOA. This is supported by observational research involving thousands of 3M production employees" (3M 2008).