Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Duplicates Important, But Not Available

People from the Mid Ohio Valley continue to contact me about obtaining duplicate test results from the C8 Health Project, but so far there is no mechanism available to accomplish this.

Last week, I spoke at length with Dr. Paul Brooks of Brookmar. He told me that as the court administrators of the project, they closed their offices in March and have no staff currently available to handle such requests.

Brooks mentioned that the court might be inclined to provide them, but it would be difficult to do so without the code assigned to the participant making the request. In order for the C8 Science Panel and others to be able to observe the data without personal and private identifying information, each participant was assigned a coded number. The number appears on the test results, so it may be somewhat unlikely that participants who lost results would be able to provide their secret code.

The problem with this whole scenario, of course, lies in the fact that when the results were distributed the C8 values meant virtually nothing. By comparing with friends and neighbors, some participants have been able to draw some conclusions about where they fit in the spectrum - high, low, etc. But, it will be years before these numbers have any true significance for the people tested.

Over the next four or five years, the C8 Science Panel will begin to draw some very important conclusions about the concentrations found in these residents. And, when they do, these people will naturally want to reference their own test results.

Additionally, the language of the issue is shifting slightly to include all PFCs and their combined impact on the human body. Although it has gone without a lot of notice, the participants of the C8 Health Project were tested for an array of PFCs. I suspect most people paid no attention to the list and focused solely on PFOA.

But, it is important to note that Germany has laid forth the groundwork for the substances and their contamination to be considered as a class - not as separate chemicals. The country has progressively established a health-based value for the group of perfluorochemicals of no more than 0.5 parts per billion. This seems much stricter than U.S. EPA’s interim level of 0.5 parts per billion for PFOA alone.

Likewise, the wording of a court filing by attorney Rob Bilott against the 3M Company over pollution surrounding a Minnesota facility calls out the class of chemicals - not one particular strain.

I’m guessing that at some point in the future it will become very important for participants to be able to peruse the entire list of contaminants and exposure levels. Those results may provide even greater insight into the issue developing in the Valley - and around the world.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Compelling TV Report from Minnesota - the Land of 3M

Follow the link: KMSP Special Report on PFCs

This television report (consisting of 2 segments totalling nearly 10 minutes) takes a really long time to load. Even so, it's a very intense and interesting report from the North Star State, looking at the issue from a national perspective. Enjoy! It's definitely worth the wait!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

C8 Health Project: 20,000+ to be Resampled

From WMOA today (www.wmoa1490.com):

The C8 Health Project is re-sampling the blood of roughly a third of the participants after a lab error resulted in the reporting of C8 levels that were slightly too high.

Dr. Paul Brooks of Brookmar, the court appointed study administrators, said in an interview yesterday that the problem was detected by quality control as they double checked the accuracy of the chemistry from their primary lab against a smaller group of results from another lab.

Brooks said it's a difficult test to run . . . which may have led to the error.

“It is a very sophisticated test,” Brooks said. “Laboratories have different methods of actually doing it. It's not done with the same method at any laboratory. We use different methods to extract it. There's a lot of variables and things that can happen in that testing, but we know we've found the problem and we're going to correct it. And, on the rerun all that is being run through quality control, too, just like the initial.”

Project administrators are faced with the monumental task of resampling the blood of more than 20,000 participants. But, they won't have to call people back to draw more serum.

“On the initial blood draw we saved blood on everybody so we can go back and retest the sample that was originally tested,” Brooks said.

And, once the resampling is complete, the first 20,000 people who participated in the C8 Health Project – or those who gave blood between September and December of 2005 – will receive revised results in the mail.

“We will give a new set of results, but we're not going to send that out until we complete everything – and we think that's going to be about 10 weeks from now,” Brooks said.

Brooks said that should happen during July. And, then the information will be turned over to the C8 Science Panel for their review.

Ultimately, the data will be used to determine the outcome of a class action lawsuit filed against DuPont for the contamination of local water supplies with the manufacturing substance.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Calgon Take Me Away!

Yesterday morning I was privileged to be able to observe a changeout of carbon material at one of the filtration plants DuPont built for a local water system. It was a fascinating process.

This particular changeout was for the Tuppers Plains Chester Water District. It is one of just three in operation, though two more are under construction.

Filtration by means of granular activated carbon is dependent upon periodic changeouts of fresh material in order to maintain effectiveness. For the existing systems, that has meant a changeout every few months.

The material is manufactured by Calgon - the same company that makes bath products and those "Calgon take me away" ads from the late 70s or early 80s. Note the enormous truck. There were two onsite - one to remove the old carbon and one to install the new stuff.

The trucks back up to the filtration plant and hook up a series of hoses to the tanks inside. Water is added to the dry carbon material and then it is fed into the recently emptied chambers.

The granular activated carbon attracts PFOA, but the method is not terribly efficient. The process takes the amount of the C8 in the delivered water down to nondetectable levels.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Timely Excerpt from Chapter 5

In 1996, Dr. Eli McCoy of the WVDEP water division negotiated a settlement of $200,000 with DuPont over reports of hundreds of dead cattle and deer in the area of the Dry Run Landfill. In part, the terms of the settlement barred further governmental investigation or enforcement at the site in exchange for the payment to the agency. It weakly insisted on some minor upgrades to the landfill, including the installation of a liner and a system for capturing groundwater runoff. At the conclusion of the drafting of the consent decree, McCoy left WVDEP for work in the private sector "and began working for the same DuPont consultant that would assist DuPont in complying with the consent decree - Potesta and Associates."

Unfortunately, the revolving door between DuPont and WVDEP didn't begin or end with Eli McCoy. Far more dangerous individuals would interfere with the health and safety of the people of West Virginia and Ohio from within the state agency.

(from Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8, Chapter 5: The Conspiratorial Bureaucracies, page 57)

Friday, May 11, 2007

WVDEP and the Chamber of Commerce Offer Environmental Academy

Some of the most slippery characters from Chapter 5: The Conspiratorial Bureaucracies will be appearing at the West Virginia Environmental Academy sponsored by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce on May 23-24.

Most notably, Dr. Eli McCoy and Ms. Allyn Turner, both former WVDEP employees who have returned to private enterprise, will be presenting along with Andrew McCallister, another of Turner's colleagues from Spilman, Thomas and Battle - a firm that has been representing DuPont in regulatory negotiations for years.

As a WVDEP enforcement official, McCoy first drafted an enforcement agreement with DuPont over the sickening of the Tennant cattle, then accepted a position working with DuPont consultant Potesta & Associates, Inc. where he is currently listed as VP. He'll be offering a talk on "Compliance Strategies".

After leaving Spilman once before for a position with WVDEP, Ms. Turner headed DEP's Department of Water and Waste Water Management. She'll be discussing "Nationwide Permitting and Mitigation Issues".

These folks are presenting alongside current WVDEP officials, the director of the Water Protection Program for USEPA Region 3, and other WV office holders in a two day conference that costs $495 to attend. It's billed as an opportunity to "discuss your company's significant environmental challenges and experiences with both industry and agency representatives".

For more information about the academy, call 304-342-1115. I couldn't make this stuff up.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Upcoming Book Events

Next Friday, May 11 my first book-signing event will be held during downtown Marietta's garden party. I'll be at American Flags and Poles on Front Street throughout the celebration from 6 to 9 pm.

Copies of the book are now available at American Flags and Poles, Sugden’s Bookstore, Mother Earth Foods and Peoples News.

The purpose of the book, Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof, and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8, is to chronicle the history of C8 (also known as PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid), its discovery in the Mid Ohio Valley, and its migration into at least as many as twelve other states. Without drawing conclusions or making claims about the potentially hazardous substance, the book endeavors to lay out all of the evidence in an even handed manner that is easy for consumers to read and understand.

And, don't forget on May 17, I'll unveil my PowerPoint presentation on the book at Warren High School auditorium. This particular showing is for the purpose of sharing the most relevant portions of the book with the most contaminated people - my friends and neighbors here in southeast Ohio. The premiere will be free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome.

*As for the footnote, I've just this week learned of a DuPont Flooring plant in St. Louis that is and will be emitting C8/PFOA until 2015, according to the Sierra Club, making Missouri the thirteenth state at risk for the same kind of industrial pollution experienced in Ohio and West Virginia.

*May 22 update: DuPont officials say there is no flooring plant in St. Louis that meets this description.