The new lawsuits come a little more than three months after the three-person C8 Science Panel finished a six-year study of C8. Their work was funded by a class-action lawsuit settlement with DuPont and based, in part, on C8 testing and other health data from roughly 70,000 current and former residents -- one of the most extensive examinations ever of how a toxic chemical affects humans.
Science Panel members found a "probable link" between C8 exposure and a variety of illnesses: high cholesterol in humans, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and dangerous high blood pressure among pregnant women. In their studies, Science Panel members took a variety of other factors, such as family history and lifestyle choices, into account when determining if C8 is linked to disease.
Under the legal settlement, DuPont also must fund up to $235 million in future medical tests for area residents, to help provide early detection of diseases. The settlement also preserved the rights of any residents who believe C8 made them sick to file injury cases against the company.
Other injury cases already have been filed against DuPont over C8 exposure. The four filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Parkersburg and Columbus, though, are the first brought by the law firms of Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler; Winter & Johnson; and Taft Stettinius & Hollister; the firms that brought the case that resulted in the Science Panel study.
Joining those firms in bringing the new cases was environmental attorney and activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the son of the slain U.S. senator and presidential candidate.
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 kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.