U.S. Water News Online
BELPRE, Ohio -- Within weeks, testing for the presence of a
chemical used to make Teflon that's been found in the blood of Ohio
and West Virginia residents will start extending to hundreds and
perhaps thousands of isolated wells.
As soon as its plan for the project is approved, DuPont Inc. will
send letters to about 3,000 homes in southern Washington County and
across the Ohio River outside Parkersburg, W.Va., to ask if they are
served by a well instead of municipal systems, which are already
If it's a well, the company will send trained samplers to collect
samples to test for ammonium perfluorooctanoate, also known as PFOA
"It's a very large undertaking," said Karen Johnson, chief of the
groundwater and enforcement branch for Region 3 of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency. "It's going to take months."
As the result of a class-action lawsuit claiming the DuPont plant
contaminated water supplies, Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont agreed to
install permanent filters to remove C8 in treatment plants in six
Ohio and West Virginia municipal water districts near its Washington
Works Plant in Parkersburg.
Initial results of blood screening found that residents near the
plant in one of the districts, Ohio's Little Hocking water system,
had about 60 times the level of C8 in their blood as the national
average. The company agreed to supply bottled water until filters are
installed in that district.
The product is widely used to produce the nonstick substance
Teflon and a variety of other products from flooring to clothing, but
does not remain in Teflon itself.
A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency science panel has issued a
draft report saying C8 is "likely" carcinogenic. DuPont claims the
chemical is safe for humans.
The testing, outlined by DuPont and the EPA in December, is moving
outward in circles from the plant south of Parkersburg. The first
sampling, started five years ago, was of water supplies within two
miles of the plant.
If levels are found that exceed 0.5 parts per billion --
equivalent to a few drops in a railway tanker car -- another round of
testing will be conducted as far north in Washington County as the
city of Marietta, and Williamstown, W.Va., across the river.
The first phase of well testing is for households outside of
Ohio's Little Hocking Water District, which has already been tested.
It includes part of Decatur, Troy, Belpre, Dunham, Barlow and Warren
In West Virginia, well testing will be east of the Lubeck water
district and in the city of Vienna.
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