The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

DuPont Agrees to Provide Less-toxic Water

by Catherine Komp

Nov. 27, 2006 – The drinking water for thousands of residents in Ohio and West Virginia might become less toxic under an agreement reached between chemical giant DuPont and the Environment Protection Agency.

DuPont agreed last week to either treat water contaminated by its West Virginia-based Washington Works facility or provide alternative drinking water to the public. The drinking water in the area near the plant is contaminated by the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also called C8, used in the Teflon-manufacturing process. DuPont must also test other water supplies for contamination.

The company is already providing some residents with bottled water under a 2005 agreement reached in a civil lawsuit.

Under the new settlement with EPA, Dupont will only need to clean up the water if the level of PFOA is 0.50 parts per billion (ppb) or greater. A previous agreement reached with the EPA in 2002 required DuPont to intervene if PFOA exceeded 150 ppb.

According to the EPA, the tougher standards are necessary after studies revealed residents had much higher levels of PFOA in their bloodstreams than the national average.

The new threshold for PFOA water contamination is also temporary while the EPA completes a risk assessment; the agency stated that this could take several years.

DuPont, which has manufactured PFOA at its Washington Works plant since the 1950s, has steadfastly denied that the chemical is harmful to humans. The EPA has gradually issued stronger health warnings about the chemical, though it has yet to label it a "likely carcinogen" as some members of the agency’s science advisory board have recommended.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Catherine Komp is a contributing journalist.

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