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 agree on a voluntary phase-out of the chemical, but researchers remain 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.
The new report is the first study to identify any association between C8 exposure and pre-eclampsia. Science Panel members said the association they found "is small, but clearly present based on a variety of ways of examining exposure."
That same report, though, also said the panel's work had not found the same association between C8 exposure and low birth weight identified in studies by other scientists who looked at other populations of newborns.
In its new liver-enzyme study, the Science Panel said the association with C8 exposure "is unlikely to be due to chance, as it is highly statistically significant."
The Science Panel said the findings regarding kidney disease deaths among C8-exposed Washington Works employees were statistically significant, but cautioned that they were based on small numbers and that "there was no overall excess risk of these diseases for all workers combined."
Previously, court records indicated that DuPont had, in 2006, tried to stop the Science Panel from continuing its study of plant workers. That same year, DuPont reported that its own studies found a "slight, but not statistically significant" increase in kidney-cancer death rates among plant workers.
An independent team of experts that advises DuPont on science issues criticized the wording of company news statements about that study, saying DuPont was wrongly downplaying the issue.
In a statement issued Tuesday, DuPont spokeswoman Janet Smith said additional work by the Science Panel is under way "and must be completed before any conclusions could be drawn regarding cause and effect."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.