CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A panel investigating the potential dangers of C8 on Monday finalized its list of human health impacts that are probably linked to chemical exposure, paving the way for Mid-Ohio Valley residents to receive free medical testing and possibly file more lawsuits against the DuPont Co.
The C8 Science Panel issued the last of six "probable link" findings, concluding that chemical exposure is likely tied to high cholesterol in humans.
The three-person panel had previously reported a "probable link" between C8 exposure and five other diseases: kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and dangerous high blood pressure among pregnant women.
"The panel's combined reports leave no doubt that the past levels of C8 in drinking water has caused serious disease among many local residents," said Harry Deitzler, a lawyer for Parkersburg-area residents whose legal settlement created the Science Panel.
The findings released Monday are the latest results from a six-year study of the DuPont chemical. The work, focused in part on C8 tests and other health data from roughly 70,000 current and former residents, allowed one of the most extensive examinations of how a toxic chemical affects humans.
"We've had the ability to really advance what's known about this chemical in terms of human health," said Science Panel member Kyle Steenland, an Emory University epidemiologist.
Under a legal settlement that created the Science Panel, any probable link connections mean DuPont Co. will have to fund up to $235 million in future medical tests for area residents, to help provide early detection of diseases linked to exposure to C8 from the company's nearby Washington Works plant.
In a prepared statement, DuPont said it would begin funding medical monitoring for eligible residents under a program "that will extend many years into the future" and would continue providing treatment to remove C8 from local water systems.
DuPont also said, though, that allegations - including those in some newly filed lawsuits alleging illness connected to the chemical -- that C8 exposure made individual residents sick "ignore family history and lifestyle choices as leading causes of health issues and disease in specific individuals."
Deitzler said that the Science Panel's work took a variety of potential disease causes into effect, and tried to isolate C8 impacts alone as much as possible. "DuPont continues to ignore the undisputed scientific facts," Deitzler said.