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Ethical Economics

Ethical Economics Panel: C8 levels linked to high cholesterol.
By Ken Ward Jr.
Charleston Gazette

October 14, 2008 - CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mid-Ohio Valley residents with greater levels of C8 in their blood also tended to have higher levels of cholesterol, according to the first results from a panel studying the chemical's health effects.

The three-person science panel found the risk of higher cholesterol was about 50 percent greater among residents with more C8 in their blood.

Science panel members cautioned that they did not yet know if the increased cholesterol followed C8 exposure or the other way around. C8 levels and cholesterol were measured at the same time, and the panel is doing follow-up studies to try to get more answers.

"Despite the difficulty in interpretation, our findings are a cause for concern, given the fact that high cholesterol is known to be related to heart disease," the science panel said in reports made public late Tuesday.

Lawyers for DuPont and Parkersburg-area residents filed the science panel reports in Wood Circuit Court late Tuesday afternoon. Science panel members scheduled a news conference for Wednesday morning to discuss the findings.

The science panel also found that Parkersburg-area residents had an average of nearly six times more C8 in their blood than the average U.S. population.

And in a third briefing paper, the panel reported that it has so far found no link between C8 exposure and diabetes.

While the diabetes results are new, the other science panel findings generally mirror information already released by West Virginia University researchers who are examining data on more than 70,000 residents who gave blood and medical histories as part of two related reviews of C8's health impacts.

But the science panel's first public release of data comes much later than originally projected. Science panel members had scheduled their initial findings to be made public in early 2007.

Both studies are being funded by major portions of a $107.6 million settlement paid by DuPont Co. to resolve a lawsuit alleging the company poisoned residents' drinking water with C8.

In one study, the C8 Health Project, residents gave blood and detailed medical histories to try to give researchers a huge database from which to consider C8's impacts. WVU researchers are analyzing that data and have been making some preliminary findings public.

In the other study, three experts are trying to determine if C8 is linked to adverse health effects. Their conclusion will be used to decide if DuPont has to fund a medical monitoring program for residents who drank contaminated water.

The science panel members are Kyle Steenland of Emory University, Tony Fletcher of the London School of Hygiene, and David Savitz of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Science panel members are also examining the community blood testing results, but are also performing a host of their own studies and reviewing other published research.

C8 is another name for ammonium perflurooctanoate, or PFOA. DuPont has used it since the 1950s at its Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg to make Teflon and other similar nonstick and stain-resistant products that are widely used.

More is available online about the science panel, http://www.c8sciencepanel.org/index.html, and about the C8 Health Project, http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/cmed/c8/.

Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 348-1702. Copyright 1996-2008 The Charleston Gazette

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