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More C8 results due, medical testing panel formed

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As one panel of experts prepared to release more key findings about C8's impacts on human health, a second trio of scientists has been appointed to sort out what sort of medical monitoring would help Mid-Ohio Valley residents exposed to toxic chemical by DuPont co.

On Thursday, lawyers for DuPont and the residents announced the formation of a "medical panel" set up as part of the landmark settlement of a class-action lawsuit against the company.

Panel members include Dr. Dean Baker, a professor of medicine at the University of California at Irvine; Dr. Melissa McDiarmid, a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland; and Dr. Harold Sox, a professor of medicine at Dartmouth College.

In a joint statement, DuPont lawyer Libretta P. Stennes and Rob Bilott, a lawyer for the residents, said panel members were all "independent, well-qualified and respected doctors."

Medical panel members will decide what sort of future medical testing DuPont must fund to help provide residents of the Parkersburg area with early detection of any ailments that the separate "C8 Science Panel" determines have a "probable link" to chemical exposure.

In December, the Science Panel released its first probable link findings, reporting after a year-study study that scientific evidence shows C8 exposure likely causes high blood pressure among pregnant women.

And on Monday, the three-person science panel has scheduled a news conference to announce additional probable link determinations. Science Panel members will release those findings after first filing them in court with Wood Circuit Judge J.D. Beane.

The work of both panels is part of the 2005 settlement of a lawsuit filed against DuPont by Mid-Ohio Valley residents whose drinking water was contaminated with C8 by DuPont's nearby Washington Works plant.

Once the Science Panel determined there was a probable link between C8 exposure and any human illness, DuPont was on the hook for funding up to $235 million for future medical monitoring for area residents.

C8 is another name for perfluorooctanoate acid, or PFOA. In West Virginia, DuPont has used C8 since the 1950s as a processing agent to make Teflon and other nonstick products, oil-resistant paper packaging and stain-resistant textiles.

DuPont and other companies have reduced their emissions and agreed on a voluntary phase-out of the chemical, but researchers are still concerned about a growing list of possible health effects and about the chemical's presence in consumer products, as well as continued pollution from waste disposal practices.

Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kward@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.


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