The US EPA issued its most cautionary heath advisory to date in response to concerns from community members who recently learned their water was contaminated with PFOA – trade name C8.
It is a situation all too familiar to residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley, but this time it is happening in upstate New York.
The water supply for the Village of Hoosick Falls and the Town of Hoosick has become contaminated by manufacturing at the nearby Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility on the Hoosick River. Saint-Gobain is a French company that makes Teflon-coated products.
Today, the EPA advised residents not to drink or cook with water containing more C8 than 100 parts per trillion. The agency’s provisional health advisory remains at .4 parts per billion or 400 parts per trillion. The number was last revised downward in 2009.
The more cautious advice comes within months of a study by Phillipe Grandjean indicating the manmade industrial solvent is harmful to humans in much smaller doses. The Teflon manufacturing substance has been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol, and pregnancy induced hypertension in Mid-Ohio Valley residents who were exposed through their drinking water as a result of operations at DuPont Washington Works along the Ohio River.
As the result of a class action lawsuit against DuPont, six valley communities were provided with filtration systems, a health study was performed to determine probable links to human disease, and $235 million in medical monitoring was made available to class members (people who drank the water at home or work for one year before 2004). Also as a result of the ground-breaking suit, individual class members who have suffered from one of the linked diseases may claim personal damages against DuPont. In a benchmark case decided by a Columbus jury this fall, kidney cancer survivor Carla Bartlett was awarded $1.6 million.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed state agencies to employ Superfund money. The plan of attack: Use filtration systems to reduce the risk while determining the extent of the contamination and required clean up. Meanwhile, impacted residents are encouraged to use bottled water provided by the polluting company.