Are Dupont C8 Poisons In The Environment or Not?
DuPont, the makers of Teflon, are finding themselves in more than a little trouble lately. The problem?
It appears this giant company had been pouring the industrial waste C8 from their Teflon manufacturing process into the Ohio River for more than 40 years – and some of that chemical had leached into the municipal drinking water supply.
C8 (perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA) is both a toxin and carcinogenic substance. In humans, along with testicular cancer, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension and ulcerative colitis, it has also been linked to both bladder and kidney cancers.
This was the case with 59-year-old Carla Bartlett of Ohio, who was recently awarded a judgment of 1.6 million dollars in a civil suit she brought against DuPont. Having contracted kidney cancer, Ms. Bartlett contended the C8 used in manufacturing Teflon was the primary cause for her disease. The jury agreed.
In fact, about 3,500 people say they became ill from the C8 spillage from DuPont’s Washington Works plant near Parkersburg, West Virginia.
Back in 2001, DuPont had already settled a class-action lawsuit regarding the exposure of 80,000 residents to C8. The settlement figure was capped at 343 million dollars, with DuPont paying for medical tests and C8 removal from the water supplies.
C8 IS NOT FRIENDLY STUFF
Ken Wamsley knows this better than most. Working for DuPont in the Teflon division at Parkersburg, West Virginia, Mr. Wamsley has said he was literally surrounded by this chemical. In the air, bubbling out of glass flasks, coating desktops and almost everything else this fine white powder came into contact with, he had no idea it was so hazardous. Assured by his superiors that C8 was basically nothing to worry about, Mr. Wamsley went about his business.
Now 73, Ken Wamsley has ongoing ulcerative colitis, which led to his rectal cancer. He blames the C8 and its hidden dangers – dangers he wasn’t made aware of.
C8 (PFOA) doesn’t easily degrade in the environment. The distressing news is that PFOA has been found to be in the blood of more than 98% of the US public. While these overall levels are low, they are exponentially higher in chemical plant workers and those living near and around where C8 is used and manufactured.
Industrial waste, stain resistant carpets and clothing, cleaning liquids, house dust, microwave popcorn bags, water, food, Teflon cookware – C8 can be found almost everywhere one looks for it.
WHAT EXACTLY IS TEFLON?
Considered the third most slippery substance on the planet, Teflon was first discovered in 1938. (Recently developed BAM – boron-aluminum-magnesium alloy combined with titanium boride – and certain nano-structured metals are now even slicker than Teflon.)
Teflon was a lucky and lucrative accident for DuPont. One of their scientists was charged with coming up with better, non-toxic refrigerants – alternatives to the then widely used sulfur dioxide and ammonia gases.
Experimenting with tetrafluorethylene (TFE) gas, around 100 pounds of this stuff was created, stored in small cylinders, and frozen. On April 6, 1938, one of the cylinders was taken out, and its valve opened. Surprisingly, nothing came out. hen the cylinder was cut open, it was found the gas had turned into a powdery white substance– with one extremely novel property.
This substance had the friction coefficient of wet ice on wet ice – in other words, it was incredibly slippery! It also had the advantages of being non-corrosive and chemically stable, even under high temperatures.
Subsequent experiments found that the newly named Teflon was actually a super strong arrangement of carbon molecules surrounded by fluorine atoms. The fluorine atoms repel almost every other element known to man.
In fact, Teflon is one of the few substances a gecko’s feet can’t adhere to!
DUPONT & SAFETY
When it comes to industrial safety, it seems DuPont could be doing a better job. heir problems don’t just lie with Teflon and C8. In Texas, four employees died last year when thousands of pounds of deadly methyl mercaptan escaped into a DuPont building in La Porte. DuPont was cited for poor building design structure, inadequate ventilation, and an inadequate warning system.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has since placed DuPont in a “severe violator enforcement program.”
To be fair though, when more than 12 tons of deadly insecticide gas escapes into a building, there’s not much any ventilation system can do to avoid disaster and death. The answer is to prevent such accidents in the first place.
TEFLON COOKWARE – IS IT SAFE?
Because it is so slick, Teflon makes for unique cookware defying almost any burnt food to stick to it, making for super easy cleanup. Teflon itself is quite benign and safe. But there is a danger. When Teflon cookware is heated above 350 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit, it can and does release toxic gases, among them C8. These gases can induce flu-like symptoms in humans. They are also quite deadly to birds, especially pet canaries.
Never heat a Teflon coated pan with nothing in it, don’t use it on a BBQ grill, and never leave Teflon-ware roasting in the oven. Also, when cuts or scrapes start to appear on the pans, it’s time to throw that Teflon cookware out.
Lawyers For Victims of DuPont C8 Teflon Exposure and Poisoning Symptoms
If you think you or your family may have been exposed to toxic waste substances such as C8, or are living close by to a known chemical manufacturing or processing plant and you are experiencing health problems, it is highly advisable to consult with an attorney. Terry Bryant in Houston has been an advocate for helping Texas residents for 30 years in achieving just compensation and justice for their rightful legal claims.