Monday, August 09, 2004

Teflon, Dupont and PFOA

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > DuPont, Now in the Frying Pan
... In the 1980's, a DuPont study of female workers exposed to the substance found that two out of seven women gave birth to babies with facial defects similar to those observed in the offspring of rats that had been exposed to PFOA in another study. In its complaint, the E.P.A. charged that DuPont had also detected PFOA in the blood of at least one of the fetuses and in public drinking water in communities near DuPont plants, but did not report that it had done the tests.

THERE is no federal requirement for companies to test unregulated chemicals like PFOA, but if companies have reason to believe a substance poses a threat, they are required by the Toxic Substances Control Act to notify the E.P.A. The agency also said DuPont was in violation of another federal environmental law for not providing all of the toxicological data it had gathered about the chemical after a 1997 request from the agency.

The class-action lawsuit, filed in Wood County, W.Va., the home of the Washington Works plant where DuPont has made Teflon for decades, has turned up a series of documents that DuPont had sought to shield as proprietary information. The latest came to light in May, when the West Virginia Supreme Court voted unanimously to unseal several DuPont memorandums from 2000 in which John R. Bowman, a company lawyer, warned two of his superiors - Thomas L. Sager, a vice president and assistant general counsel, and Martha L. Rees, an associate general counsel - that the company would "spend millions to defend these lawsuits and have the additional threat of punitive damages hanging over our head.

Can you say ... asbestos? Dupont will have invested extensively in senators and the Bush campaign, perhaps they expect that will shield them. 3M cleverly dumped this business, but Dupont persisted. The evidence so far looks quite ominous.

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