DuPont could be on the hook for up to $235 million for future medical monitoring for area residents. The term "probable link," though, isn't a standard one for scientists who study toxic chemical exposure. It's defined in the DuPont legal settlement as whether, "based upon the weight of the available scientific evidence, it is more likely than not that there is a link between exposure to C8 and a particular human disease" among Mid-Ohio Valley residents taking part in the lawsuit.
"It's important to recognize that the work we are doing is under a legal framework," panel member David Savitz of Brown University told residents. "It is not under the usual scientific framework we work in.
"It isn't something where you can just plug numbers into an equation and get the answer, I'm afraid," Savitz said. "It's a judgment. There's no getting around it."
Science Panel members have previously published peer-reviewed papers, along with a dozen separate "Status Reports" filed with Wood Circuit Judge J.D. Beane and posted on the panel's website. They've found C8 exposure associated with a variety of adverse health effects, ranging from high cholesterol and hypertension to excess cancer deaths and thyroid disease among children.
So far, though, the panelists have not filed a report in which they actually either find or rule out a "probable link" between such problems and C8 exposure. Panel members say those decisions will be made by July 2012.
While panelists have traveled the world giving presentations in which they provide data to fellow researchers, the panel's Status Report documents to the local community have been short on detailed evidence to support their conclusions.
Panel member Tony Fletcher of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said he and his colleagues have tried to provide frequent updates without overwhelming or confusing the public about their work. Publishing in journals and networking with other scientists provides the panel with important feedback and helps ensure the reliability of their work, Fletcher said.
"We've tried to be reasonably transparent with the public," Fletcher said.
A second public meeting is scheduled for today<co tues> at 6 p.m. at Meigs Local Middle School in Pomeroy, Ohio. Science Panel members are also scheduled to appear at a hearing before Beane in Wood Circuit Court at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in Parkersburg.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.